The hosts suffered a 4-3 defeat to Montpellier in their last game, whereas Rennes faltered yet again in Europe as they lost 2-1 to Chelsea on their own turf.
Losing at the home of Montpellier is nothing that Strasbourg should be ashamed of, especially given the manner of their performance which saw them chalk up three goals on the road through Kenny Lala, Habib Diallo and Ludovic Ajorque.
However, the defensive frailties of Les Coureurs were exposed once again as Montpellier struck four times to take the spoils, with Andy Delort keeping his strong early-season form going with a brace while Gaetan Laborde and Pedro Mendes also found the back of the net.
With a league-high 23 goals conceded in the French top flight – a tally that is only matched by Brest – it is no wonder that Strasbourg are languishing in 19th after 11 matches, with Dijon the only side to have accumulated fewer points than Les Coureurs at this stage.
Furthermore, Strasbourg’s sole victory on home soil this season was a narrow 1-0 triumph over Dijon back in September, but Rennes are a team in woeful form themselves, so Laurey’s men can afford to feel cautiously optimistic about their chances of picking up an imperative victory against the Champions League contenders.
The less said about Rennes’s maiden venture in the Champions League, the better. Julien Stephan‘s men are still yet to taste victory in Europe’s elite competition, although Les Rouge et Noir did produce a spirited performance against Chelsea in midweek.
However, Rennes’s tenacity ultimately counted for nothing as Olivier Giroud marked his return to France with a last-gasp winner for the Blues, who had initially opened the scoring through Callum Hudson-Odoi before Serhou Guirassy powered in the equaliser with five minutes remaining.
Stephan’s side were on course to take a deserved point from Tuesday’s clash before Giroud headed home, and with a spot in the Europa League now the best that Les Rouge et Noir can hope for, Stephan will no doubt be focused on turning his side’s fortunes around in the league.
Rennes have now lost four on the trot in all competitions following their strong start to proceedings and have slowly slipped away from the leading pack, with Stephan’s men finding themselves down in seventh – six points adrift of leaders Paris Saint-Germain – ahead of Friday’s game with Strasbourg.
However, Rennes have recorded back-to-back 2-0 victories on Strasbourg’s turf over the past couple of seasons, while the two sides have not shared the spoils in this fixture since 2003.
Strasbourg Ligue 1 form: LLWLLL
Rennes Ligue 1 form: DDLWLL
Rennes form (all competitions): LWLLLL
Veteran goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima is in line for another start in between the Strasbourg sticks in place of Bingourou Kamara, who has returned to training after a tendon injury but may not be risked on Friday.
Laurey has no reason to drastically alter his XI in the final third, with Ajorque and Diallo now boasting seven goals and three assists between them in the 2020-21 campaign.
As for the visitors, Rennes were forced to make do without Nayef Aguerd for the loss to Chelsea due to illness, and with fellow centre-back Daniele Rugani still sidelined through injury, Gerzino Nyamsi should start alongside Damien Da Silva again.
Martin Terrier was left out of the squad entirely in midweek, but his absence was believed to be performance-related rather than any injury or fitness concerns.
Strasbourg possible starting lineup:
Kawashima; Lala, Simakan, Mitrovic, Caci; Aholou, Sissoko, Bellegarde; Thomasson; Diallo, Ajorque
Rennes possible starting lineup:
Gomis; Traore, Nyamsi, Da Silva, Maouassa; Nzonzi, Camavinga, Bourigeaud; Del Castillo, Guirassy, Tait
We say: Strasbourg 1-2 Rennes
Neither Strasbourg nor Rennes supporters will be brimming with confidence heading into this bout, but it represents the perfect opportunity for both sides to arrest their slumps and kick on before the festive period. Rennes were unfortunate to lose in such disheartening circumstances against Chelsea, and while there will be some inevitable fatigue among Stephan’s crop, we think Les Rouge et Noir will finally return to winning ways on Friday.
Top betting tip
Source: | This article originally belongs to Sportsmole.co.uk
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