Rennes v Montpellier – Stade de la Route de Lorient at 20:00

“When I took over the club on 9th November, I don’t remember people inside the club or outside it talking about Rennes qualifying for Europe,” said Sabri Lamouchi after overseeing Rennes to a significant 2-0 triumph away to champions PSG last weekend.

The victory guaranteed the Brittany club a sixth-placed finish, meaning that European football is a certainty next season – a remarkable turnaround considering the rough start to the campaign and the chaos that ensued at Roazhon Park.

Despite significant investment over recent years, Rennes returned a solitary success from their opening nine matches. And even when Lamouchi arrived on the scene, results were far from serene. It took the former Ivory Coach head coach time but he’s since stumbled upon a successful system.

Rennes new-look

Lamouchi started to employ a more versatile and flexible 4-2-3-1 system that allowed Les Rouges et Noirs more strength in the middle of the park. A physical midfield – that still boasts passing ability – now has a blend of culture and flair on the flanks through Benjamin Bourigeaud on the right, as well as Wahbi Khazri on the left and young sensation Ismaila Sarr.

Bourigeaud and Adrien Hunou were on target at the Parc des Princes last weekend and SRFC is certainly buoyant heading into their final fixture of the season. I certainly don’t expect them to down tools – the hosts have won their last three games when welcoming middle-third sides and with four triumphs from their past six matches, Lamouchi’s keen to finish with a flourish.

Trends also suggest that Rennes can overcome a -0.50 Asian Handicap hurdle at 2.01. The higher placed team has won 60% of final round home matches in Ligue 1 over the past 10 seasons – compared to just 53% for the rest of the season – and visitors Montpellier appear to have run out of gas.

Montpellier limping over the line

At one stage, Montpellier looked like challenging the top-four. However, La Palade has fallen away quickly having tabled just two triumphs in their final 12 fixtures.

The visitors have struggled for goals all season and especially so when traveling to Ligue 1’s leading lights. Montpellier has managed just one goal in five trips to the top-six whilst also losing their last three meetings with clubs currently occupying the top eight positions.

Even Montpellier’s rock-solid defense has come under pressure, recording only two shutouts in 10 – and with away teams keeping clean sheets in just 17% of final round matches over the past 15 seasons – compared to 24% for the rest of the season – I expect the guests’ side to fall short here.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Rennes -0.50 at 1.970

By @MarkOHaire

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