FC Metz v Rennes – Stade Saint-Symphorien at 19:00
Relegation favourites last season, Metz defied the bookmakers to finish seven points above the drop zone, albeit with the worst goal difference in the league. A superb start including three wins from their opening four games gave the outsiders hope but thereafter Les Grenats struggled for consistency.
The Lorraine-based club often toiled against Ligue 1’s leading lights. Metz was beaten in 10 of their 12 games against the top-six, failing to score on nine occasions and leaking at least three goals in all but one of those 10 losses.
Saturday’s hosts’ two leading scorers – Mevlut Erinc and Cheick Diabate – are no longer around whilst the club also lost two important defensive players in centre-back Guido Milan, Ismaila Sarr and Georges Mandjeck defensive midfield during a difficult summer in the transfer market.
Metz struggling at the foot of the table
So it’s probably no great surprise to see the club in dire straights at the bottom of Ligue 1. They still have 22 games to play but it’s time to start planning for a return to Ligue 2. Their 3-1 defeat at Nice last Saturday evening was their 14th in 16 games and they have scored just six goals all season.
Philippe Hinschberger was sacked in October and the arrival of the well-respected Frédéric Hantz has not helped and they currently sit 14 points from safety. Lens’ tally of 17 points in the 1988-89 season is the fewest ever achieved in Ligue 1 history; Metz could lower that record this season.
Metz is yet to win a point at home and I wouldn’t be backing that record to change this weekend when in-form Rennes arrive. In fact, the 2.30 available on the visitors to pocket maximum points on Saturday night is well worth getting involved with.
Rennes finding their feet
Former France international Sabri Lamouchi replaced Christian Gourcuff as coach of Rennes last month. Gourcuff left following the arrival of Olivier Letang as the French club’s new vice-president and general manager with the Brittany club looking for a change of direction after a disappointing start.
Rennes were 17 points adrift of league leaders PSG after 12 matches but the timing appeared a little odd with Les Rouges et Noir bagging three successive wins in the weeks leading up to Lamouchi’s appointment.
Nevertheless, a 2-1 defeat at Strasbourg remains their only blemish in seven and Rennes should be well capable of continuing their good form this weekend with a seventh victory in eight league outings.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Rennes -0.50 at 2.265
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