Rennes and Marseille face off in the Champions League


Stade Rennais FC – Olympique de Marseille Kick-off 21:00 CET (1900 GMT)


It’s one of the biggest Uber Eats Ligue 1 games of the season and Roazhon Park is close to being sold out as Rennes prepare for their final home game of the campaign. The stakes could hardly be higher, with the hosts still in contention for Champions League qualification and also in danger of missing out on a European spot.

Marseille have been in the top three permanently since November. Jorge Sampaoli is now back in Brittany to face Rennes just six days after losing 3-0 to FC Lorient when goals from Bamba Dieng, Mattéo Guendouzi and Gerson put them back on track after their semi-final disappointment of Europa Conference League. final exit towards Feyenoord.

OM had faltered in their previous league outing, losing 3-0 at home to Olympique Lyonnais, and against Lorient they had to overcome defeats by Cédric Bakambu, Duje Caleta-Car, Dieng and Gerson on muscle injuries. Overcoming those setbacks they have suffered, and Marseille have won seven in their last nine Ligue 1 matches while maintaining their grip on second place, three points ahead of AS Monaco in third – the two clubs have a difference identical goals and the same number of goals scored.

Watch: OM too good for Lorient

More importantly, Sampaoli’s side are five points clear of fourth-placed OGC Nice, meaning victory here will secure a podium finish and Champions League football next season. Second place would guarantee a place in the group stage, but lose here, and slip at home to RC Strasbourg Alsace on the final day, and there’s a chance they could still finish fifth and have to settle for the less enticing one. prospect of the Europa Conference League.

“There is no obligation for us to finish second, although that would be great. We have a young team that has fought hard to make this season a success. We have a lot of points on the board, but now we have two matches to come against opponents who have everything to gain in the fight for Europe,” Sampaoli acknowledged.

“It will be two Cup finals. We could be second, but we could also be fourth or fifth. It would be a little more problematic if we finished third and had to participate in the qualifying rounds (of the Champions League). We had to plan and figure out how to prepare and how to strengthen the team.

Reindeer against the current

While Marseille comfortably hold the best away record in Ligue 1, Rennes have scored a fearsome 78 goals, a total bettered only by champions Paris Saint-Germain (81). The Bretons retained third place behind OM until last weekend, when Monaco, in great shape, overtook them.

Things got worse on Wednesday when Bruno Genesio’s side lost 2-1 away to derby rivals FC Nantes despite taking an early lead through Flavien Tait. Nice won 4-2 at home against AS Saint-Etienne at the same time, pushing Rennes to fifth place. They are now six points behind Marseille and three behind Monaco, while being only two points clear of Strasbourg, outside the European places in sixth. Victory here is therefore absolutely crucial for a club that invested heavily in new players last summer.

Watch: Rennes beaten in the derby

“It will be difficult now to finish on the podium, admitted technical director Florian Maurice after the Nantes setback. “We will continue to fight until the end. The desire to bounce back is there.

Senegal international Alfred Gomis returned in goal for Rennes against Nantes after being sidelined since mid-March with a broken finger, while Nayef Aguerd can now return to central defense after serving a two-match suspension. Marseille are without skipper Dimitri Payet for the rest of the season with a calf injury. Bakambu was still struggling with the blow that forced him to move to Lorient, but Arkadiusz Milik and Amine Harit are hoping to return after playing no role last weekend.

“We tried to take advantage of a full week to recover because the players finished the last game in Lorient exhausted,” admitted the coach.

Probable teams

Reindeer: To follow

Marseilles: To follow

>> FOCUS: The Ligue 1 race for Europe

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