By D. Crossan
Fresh from reaching the quarter-finals of the Coupe de la Ligue, Rennes and Paris Saint-Germain meet at Roazhon Park on Saturday afternoon.
Rennes required penalties to see off Olympique de Marseille at the same stadium on Wednesday evening to maintain their good run under Sabri Lamouchi, while four-time defending champions PSG avenged their Ligue 1 Conforama loss at Strasbourg by winning 4-2 in Alsace.
PSG have slipped back into gear, adding to their league success over LOSC last weekend and starting to answer some of the questions raised by the Strasbourg defeat, followed up by the reversal at Bayern Munich.
Unai Emery’s side will be up against fatigued opponents, although Rennes’ recent run, begun under Lamouchi’s predecessor Christian Gourcuff, has been terrific. In their last eight league matches Rennes have claimed 19 points thanks to six wins, a draw and a single defeat, to Strasbourg in Lamouchi’s first game in charge. Only PSG and Olympique Lyonnais have claimed as many points from their last eight outings.
Following the OM heroics, a place in the last eight secured by Benjamin Bourigeaud’s winning spot-kick, a concerned Lamouchi said: “There’s a lot of emotion involved because of the way it finished up. I’m happy we’ve gone through, but when I contemplate the amount of energy we had to put into the match I ask myself what sort of state we’re going to be in on Saturday when we host PSG.”
Goalkeeper Abdoulaye Diallo kept out two OM penalties to prove to Lamouchi that he has an able understudy to Tomas Koubek. Diallo said: “The shootout I did on feeling. The important thing was not to move too quickly and to stay on the balls of my feet as long as possible. It worked for me.”
Emery: “We keep progressing”
After the Strasbourg success Emery commented: “We needed to improve on the league game. The team was more focused from the start, we didn’t give the opponent the chance to take the lead. We could have scored more and played better, but we’re still happy. We keep progressing, match by match. We’re the title holders and we want to keep this trophy.”
Neymar was allowed to return to Brazil to sort out a family matter but will be available for the weekend. The MCN could well be restored after only Edinson Cavani, closing in on Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s club scoring record, began against Strasbourg. Cavani has 48 goals this calendar year in all competitions, one shy of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. Thiago Silva and Thiago Motta were absent in Strasbourg through injury.
Rennes: (to follow)
PSG: (to follow)