On the one hand a European club with ambitious recruitment; on the other a fresh promotion without feathers: the 32nd final of the Coupe de France between Rennes and Lorient; the only shock in Ligue 1; looks as unbalanced as other Saturdays (9.00).
This summer; Rennes and the Pinault family have spent around €80m to cement their European ambitions. Granted; world champion Steven Nzonzi and nugget Eduardo Camavinga are gone. And Jérémy Doku; who was injured at the end of August; has only made a few appearances since then.
But those absences have largely been made up for; save for the recent absence of midfielder powerhouse Flavien Tait.
At the end of a hard-fought autumn; the red-blacks are on the L1 podium and qualified for the round of 16 of the Europa League Conference. Bruno Genesio even regretted the cancellation of last week’s game against Tottenham due to an outbreak of Covid-19 at the English club.
With no action for Rennes; the game was an opportunity to give the perpetual substitutes playing time and prepare for the absences associated with the CAN. But the rotation will be limited on Saturday not to leave the defending champions in the game 10 days before Wednesday’s trip to Monaco.
– “4 to 5 national players” –
In contrast; Lorient are far from these problems of the rich… After investing heavily during their rise to the elite in the summer of 2020; the club had to reduce the profile hit by the financial crisis linked to the measures taken by huis Sanitary housing and the Mediapro fiasco.
Yoane Wissa has been sold to Bentford and Trevoh Chalobah (Chelsea) and Andreaw Gravillon (Inter Milan) have not been renewed on loan. Pillars that the Brazilian Igor Silva and the German central defender Moritz Jenz; the only additions of the summer; have not forgotten.
At the same time; injuries increased. At the end of November; Christophe Pélissier was without six potential champions who remained in hospital at Angers; not to mention the suspension of Jérôme Hergault; who has two red cards in six games this season.
If some injuries have returned; Lorient is still bereft of Jérémy Morel; the veteran centre-back; and in particular his precious captain Fabien Lemoine; who has injured a calf since early November and is not expected before the end of January. Which forces the coach to draw from the reserve.
“We end up with 4 to 5 players from National 2;” Pélissier noted a few weeks ago.
– “A way out” –
Among the new faces in dire need of promotion is Léo Pétrot; a 24-year-old centre-back who played for Andrézieux; a second national team (4th division); last season. Samuel Loric; 21; is returning from a season at Avranches (National). And Théo Le Bris; a club-trained midfielder; has already played an hour in L1 before signing his first professional contract last week.
No one was unworthy; but we shouldn’t expect a miracle in a group in full crisis either: after a good start to the season; Lorient are 11 games without a win and seven losses in a row. And has just dived back into the red; 19th; level on points with Metz.
Despite it all; President Loïc Féry publicly maintained his support for Pélissier and the players showed on Sunday that despite a quick lead; they had no intention of resigning.
In L1 at the end of November; Rennes’ attack had to wait until the last quarter of an hour to make up the difference and win 2-0 at Moustoir. And Genesio warns: -They are in a negative phase; but it is another competition. For them it is a way out.–
“What are we risking?” argues Pélissier. “It’s the trophy; it’s up to us to approach it with the idea of the small; but we also have our arguments to make. If we go there as a victim; it’s not worth it.”
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