Lesser-fancied European teams to watch this season #2 - Stade Rennais
The European football season is fast approaching and here is a look at the second team you should keep an eye on this season - the French side Stade Rennais.
Les Rouge et Noir had a season not to forget in a hurry after their Europa League adventures and, of course, winning the Coupe de France against Paris Saint-Germain. Two nights stand out from what was a mediocre league campaign, which resulted in the team finishing 10th but also a change of manager in December.
The first night was Europa League adventure, particularly the 3-1 victory over Arsenal in the round of 16 in Rennes, sadly following it up by losing 3-0 at the Emirates in the second leg. However, the second night was the 27th of April 2019 - the Coupe de France final, where they beat PSG 6-5 on penalties after holding the French giants to a 2-2 draw in normal time, to win their first trophy since 1983.
The question is, can they build from a memorable season? Rennes will be in the Europa League again this season but would want to do better than 10th in the league which included a streak of 8 games without a win towards the end of the season. Rennes have already spent around £20 million on signings which included making top-scorer M'Baye Niang's transfer from Torino permanent.
The Senegalese international scored 11 goals last season and assisted 4, playing as the lone striker in coach Julian Stephan's 4-2-3-1. They have also bought Flavien Tait from Angers who scored 5 goals and assisted 9 last season, which will bolster their left-wing. They have also been linked with the Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny who wants to return to France and he would be a very welcome experience in the backline, which conceded 52 goals last season, and would add to the signing of Jeremy Morel from Lyon.
However, despite signing Tait, a left-winger, they need to keep hold of another winger in Ismalia Sarr. The promising Senegalese international who scored 13 goals and assisted 11 last season in all competitions was a key player to the success of Les Rouge et Noir, especially the 3-1 win against Arsenal. Now he has been subject to interest from the Premier League and by Watford in particular. The speedy winger's loss would be a huge blow to Rennes if he was to leave the club. But, if they keep him and sign someone like Koscielny, there is no reason why European football can't be achievable again through the league, much like 2 seasons ago.
The quick counter-attacking pace of the Rennes, yet with a system of possession-based football makes Rennes an exciting team to watch and they only had two games in the entirety of last season, where no team scored. One was against Nice who only scored 30 goals and conceded 35 in the entire season. This means you will see goals and entertaining football and the atmosphere at the Roahzon Park is one to behold.