Rennes v Reims – Stade de la Route de Lorient at 15:00 live at BT Sport
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 the Brittany boys were looking to build on their 2017/18 campaign by challenging for more continental places.
Last season, SRFC struggled for consistency at their Roazhon Park home, a strong reason for finishing 19 points off Champions League qualification. Lamouchi, who only arrived in the hot-seat in November, suggested improvements were necessary if that gap was to be bridged whilst reinforcements were required.
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 excited. Joris Gnagnon’s big-money deal away was a blow but Damian Da Silva was a capable replacement in defence – the squad was looking in decent shape.
Is Ben Arfa the missing link for Rennes?
However, the most eye-catching addition arrived late in the day with Les Rouges et Noir managing to snap up the mercurial Hatem Ben Arfa. Following a spell in exile at boyhood club PSG, the former French star has been keen to show what he’s still capable of and after regaining sharpness, has impressed.
The 31-year-old put in a dominant display for Rennes in their 1-1 draw at a resolute St Etienne outfit last weekend. Ben Arfa won a penalty following a mesmeric run (although he missed the spot-kick) and looked to combine well with young starlet Ismaila Sarr, the guile of Clement Grenier and Benjamin Bourigeaud in attack.
Frustratingly for Lamouchi, his team weren’t able to pick up maximum points, and with only one success in six, he’s feeling the feet from the SRFC board. But seven of Rennes’ opening 10 games have come against the current top-half and their new-look forwardline should get plenty of opportunity against Reims on Sunday.
Reims lack of firepower
Since opening their campaign following promotion back to Ligue 1 with successive victories, Reims are winless, drawing five of their past eight. The newcomers have scored just three goals in that sample, firing blanks on eight occasions with four fixtures ending goalless.
Both Amiens and PSG have managed to trounced Reims 4-1 as hosts already this season and should the hosts find their feet, they should be able to justify 1.75 quotes on overcoming a -0.50 Asian Handicap hurdle having claimed 8/17 (47%) Ligue 1 triumphs at their Roazhon Park base under Lamouchi, despite only seven of those encounters coming against bottom-half dwellers.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Rennes -0.50 at 1.750
Preview by: @MarkOHaire.
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