Rennes were not that bad last round as the result suggests (2-0 defeat at Guingamp). They remained in 10 early in the second half and just couldn’t cope with it.
But Rennes are actually on the right path. Offensive midfielders are more confident and the defense is getting more stable as round goes by. Even winger Alessandrini made his comeback last round after a year long injury. He played for about 30 minutes, didn’t actually made a difference, but at home it will be a different story (fans really love and miss him).
Important central midfielder Pajot will return from suspension. He is a key player and will boost both the defensive and offensive phase. Valenciennes will find it very difficult to deal with the wall created by midfielders Pajot and Makoun, especially with their reduced attacking power.
The only bad news for Rennes is the absence of striker Oliveira through suspension. The thing is that Rennes don’t actually have another pure blooded striker and they will have to convert a winger to that position. There is Argentinian forward Romero who could step in, although I doubt this will happen, and most likely winger Pitropia with his iron lungs will be the chosen one.
It took more than I expected but finally Valenciennes have a new coach, Belgian Ariel Jacobs. He’s got a somewhat impressive CV with teams like Anderlecht and Copenhagen among past coached clubs.
He was sacked from Copenhagen this summer after failing to win in the first 5 rounds.
Getting back to those that will actually be playing I must tell you something about Valencienne’s last game. Reims opened the score pretty early and withdrew believing they could reject all of Valencienne’s crippled attempts. They almost succeeded and only bad luck prevented them from taking all 3 points (finished 1-1). It was really hilarious to watch Valenciennes attacking. All of their passing attempts from the flanks were constantly hitting opponents and as a consequence they had somewhere around 20 corners, and all of them missed the target (like they were aiming for birds in the sky).
Forward Pujol is still injured so Valencienens will rely on young N’Guette once again. He is a nice prospect but there’s a lot of work to be done in his case. Fullback Mater is very doubtful and most probably will miss once again.
But the worst news is the suspensions of defensive midfielders Enza-Yamissi and possible replacement Ducourtioux. Saez will most likely play as a central midfielder but he is of no use to the defense.
At first with both strikers out (Oliveira – Rennes and Pujol – Valenciennes) I wanted to take under 2.5 goals but after taking a deeper look I got to like home win better. Valencienens with a new coach and in need of points will be a bit desperate and violent in their attempts. Rennes through the offensive midfielders have what it takes to put a few past Valenciennes. The price on Rennes to win at 1.83 looks really tasty.