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Ligue 1: Rennes reconquering European places

Back in the wake of the European places, Rennes will go to Le Havre, Sunday, during the 21st day of Ligue 1 (1 p.

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Ligue 1: Rennes reconquering European places

Back in the wake of the European places, Rennes will go to Le Havre, Sunday, during the 21st day of Ligue 1 (1 p.m.), to maintain good momentum even if a seventh consecutive continental qualification remains a distant objective.

Four days before its Europa League play-off first leg against AC Milan, Rennes is in much better shape than at the time of the draw in mid-December. The Bretons were then three points from the red zone, two days before a trip to the bottom of the red, Clermont, which had everything double or nothing.

But they have since scored four victories in the league, plus three qualifications in the Coupe de France, including a very convincing 6-1 at Sochaux in the middle of the week. With the prospect of meeting Petit Poucet, Le Puy (N2) in the quarter-final of the Cup, and seven lengths behind Monaco, 5th, the Reds and Blacks remain moderately ambitious.

“Five weeks later (the match in Clermont), we cannot say that we have any other objective than that of regaining consistency, improving the team's results, regaining confidence to have continuity,” coach Julien Stephan assured after the victory against Montpellier (2-1) last weekend.

During this match, as in Lyon, where Rennes led 3-0 before OL came back to 3-2, the Bretons trembled in the final minutes and the coach was able to measure the extent to which the balance of his team is still fragile.

Before the match against Le Havre, he therefore assured to take “a look of satisfaction and also a look of alert” on the good series of his team, “because the longer the series, the more we can have the risk of fall into a form of self-satisfaction which could be dangerous.

Faced with the Normans, solid 11th, it is imperative to forget European dreams, whether for next season or the gala meeting at San Siro on Thursday.

“There is no hierarchy in competitions today,” insisted Stephan, “we have enough work to do to properly prepare for this match before planning for future events.”

“To be honest, between us we haven't even talked about Milan. We know how important the Le Havre match is,” also confirmed Belgian central defender Arthur Theate.

Coming back with a point from Monaco (1-1), Le Havre often makes the big guys suffer in its Stade Océane. Nice suffered one of its three defeats of the season (3-1) and Monaco, in the first leg, only owed a missed penalty at the last minute by the HAC to leave with a 0 -0.

“Le Havre is a good team, it’s a team, I find, underrated, about which we don’t talk a lot,” said Stephan. “It’s a team that is well organized, which is also well coached, which built its squad at the start of the season in a very intelligent way. It’s a dynamic team, an aggressive team too, in the good sense of the word,” explained the technician.

The latter also has a lot of work to do with the hamstring injury of his midfielder Enzo Le Fée, in Sochaux, which will leave a big void during his absence estimated at five or six weeks.

“We will have to rethink certain things. See if one of the central defenders cannot possibly integrate the rotation in the middle or move to a three-way midfielder with different profiles,” outlined Stephan, as a line of thought.

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