Lille v Rennes
Fifth-placed Rennes earned a Europa League berth last term following a strong finish under the astute leadership of Sabri Lamouchi. Les Rouges et Noir suffered a sole reverse in their final 14 games and should Brittany boys enhance their record at their Roazhon Park home, the 19-point gap to fourth should be closed.
Lamouchi only arrived in the hot-seat in November and, although the transition wasn’t immediate, SRFC continued to improve throughout the campaign. The only position in which Rennes seemed to struggle was up front and so the arrival of Jordan Siebatcheu after an excellent campaign in Ligue 2 with Reims excites.
Joris Gnagnon’s big-money deal away was a blow but Damian Da Silva is a capable replacement and Clement Grenier a potential match-winner should he stay fit. The signs are certainly strong that Les Rouges et Noir can mount another challenge on the European positions this season with a strong and stable squad.
Keeping their outstanding away record intact will pose problems but SRFC should be backed with a +0.25 start to at least avoid defeat in their opening encounter away at Lille on Saturday night. The visitors returned W8-D6-L5 on their travels last term, including victories at Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux and PSG.
Lille hoping to improve after dreadful 2017/18
Lille have lost their last three meetings with Rennes and are winless in six against their (W0-D3-L3) Brittany foes. And Les Dogues will be desperately hoping for an improvement after suffering a dreadful campaign last time out.
LOSC finished one point above the drop zone in 17th – their worst finish since 1997 – thanks to tabling three wins in their final four fixtures. And the hosts were beaten in 20 Ligue 1 games, their highest tally in a top-flight season since 1976/77 with Marcelo Bielsa’s management a mitigating disaster.
The Argentine was axed in December and Chrisophe Galtier – a former legendary coach at St Etienne – saved the side from the drop. The wily boss remains but many of his key players have been pilfered in the summer as Yves Bissouma, Ibrahim Amadou and Kevin Malcuit have all moved on to pastures new.
Loic Remy, Jose Fonte, and Jonathan Bamba are three intriguing arrivals but Lille may take time to adjust with the new-look squad and having kept only three clean sheets on home soil last season (W6-D6-L7), are easily opposed.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Rennes 0.25 at 1.790
Preview by: @MarkOHaire.
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