Rennes v Lyon – Stade de la Route de Lorient at 19:45 Live at BT Sport
Lyon was disappointed to finish fourth last season, missing out on Champions League football for 2017/18. The poor performance saw three of their biggest stars depart this summer with 27-goal top scorer Alexandre Lacazette, captain Maxime Gonalons and young prodigy Corentin Tolisso all moving on.
Given the exodus of top-class talent, many were expecting Les Gones to make a slow start to life this time around but Bruno Genesio’s group rocketed to the top of the table with a 4-0 drubbing of promoted Strasbourg last Saturday. New captain Nabil Fekir and new signing Mariano Diaz bagged a brace each.
Lyon reduced Strasbourg to a sole on-target effort and Genesio made it clear defense had been his priority coming into this campaign, saying, “The idea was to be solid defensively as our defense was what stopped us being in the top three last season. We scored 114 goals in all competitions but we were too unbalanced and left too much space between the lines. We put the accent on correcting that, but this was only a first game.”
Indeed, Les Gones boasted the second worst defense in the top-nine last season. Work has been done with incoming signings to rectify the backline but Lyon also appears undoubtedly weaker going forward despite their impressive opening show.
Lyon too short to support
The visitors may have made their mark early on Ligue 1 but I’m still not sure they should be as skinny as 1.91 in places to take maximum points away from Rennes on Friday night. Lyon was beaten on 13 occasions last term and have only claimed 12/27 (44%) victories on their travels under Genesio.
In contrast, Rennes have lost just three games at their Roazhon Park base under experienced head coach Christian Gourcuff and look value 1.95 shots with a +0.5 Asian Handicap start here. Should Les Rouges et Noirs avoid defeat, we’ll pocket ourselves a nice winner.
Rennes looking to address weaknesses
Gourcuff has been busy in the transfer market this summer after seeing five first team players depart. Consistently marooned in upper mid-table, the hosts have targeted a European challenge and know they must turn their draws into triumphs if they’re to stand a chance in breaking the top-six.
Only the bottom two scored fewer than Rennes (36) during the last campaign with the departures of Paul-Georges Ntep and Ousmane Dembele hitting the side hard over the past 12 months. However, new signings Brandon and Ismaili Sarr arrive with burgeoning reputations to address their final third weaknesses.
Les Rouges et Noirs could only claim a 1-1 draw at newly-promoted Troyes on Saturday but Gourcuff’s troops dominated possession whilst winning the shot count 16-11. Sarr was a lively performer and there’s a sense Rennes will only get better as the season progresses.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Rennes +0.5 at 1.917
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