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Introducing the opponent: Rennes

Tuesday, November 8, 2022


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In the knockout round play-offs of the UEFA Europa League – 2022/23, Shakhtar will face France's Rennes

The matches will be played on February 16 and 23, 2023. The winner of the fight will get a pass to the 1/8 final of the UEFA Europa League. Today we introduce you to the future rival of the Miners.

History and achievements

Rennes, founded in 1901, have not achieved major victories in their more than 120-year history – they won the French Cup only three times (1965, 1971, 2019) and won the country's Super Cup (1971). Among the trophies, there is one international one: in the summer of 2008, the Red-and-Blacks became the winners of the Intertoto Cup draw. In the national championship, the Bretons have also never risen above the third place (bronze medals were won in the 2019/20 season), but in recent years they have steadily held among the strongest teams in League 1. In the 2021/22 French Championship, Rennes scored 66 points and finished in 4th place, taking a direct pass to the Europa League group tournament.
For the past five years, Rennes have regularly played in European Cups. In the 2018/19 season, the club have achieved the highest achievement so far – they reached 1/8 of the UEFA Europa League final. The first and only experience of playing in the Champions League group occurred in the fall of 2020, when the team scored 1 point and finished last in the quartet. Last season, the mentees of Bruno Genesio played in the UEFA Conference League, where they reached the 1/8 final, losing to England's Leicester with a total score of 2-3.
Rennes host home matches at the Ruazon Park stadium, which holds about 30 thousand spectators.

Squad and leaders

The famous French coach Bruno Geneziot has been the head coach of Rennes since March 2021. The 56-year-old professional became famous for working with Lyon (2015–2019), who took silver and bronze (twice) championship medals under his leadership. After spending a year and a half in China's Beijing Goan, Genesio returned to his home championship, and at the end of the 2021/22 season, won the Coach of the Year in France award according to the National Union of Professional Footballers.

As what concerns the squad formation, Rennes traditionally relies on their own pupils – the club academy has been recognized as the best in France for 6 years in a row. Breton scouts also find young talents in Europe, Africa and South America. Experienced fans can recall such famous graduates of the local school as Petr Cech, Sylvain Wiltor, Joanne Gourcuff, Kim Celstrom. The French have always made good money selling their trainees, but all the record transfers relate to the modern period: these are the transitions of Ousmane Dembele to Borussia (35 million euros), Eduardo Camavinga to Real Madrid (31), Ismaila Sarr to Watford (30), Edouard Mendy to Chelsea (24). In the summer of 2022, Moroccan Nayef Aguerd (transferred to West Ham for 35 million euros), 17-year-old Mathys Tel (Bayern, 20) and Gaetan Laborde (Nice, 18) joined this list.

The Bretons immediately invested all the proceeds from transfers in new players. Last offseason, forwards Amine Gouiri of Nice (€28 million is a record purchase in the club's history) and Arnaud Kalimuendo of PSG (20), defenders Arthur Theate of Bologna (19) and Christopher Wooh of Lance (9) were signed. Each of these newcomers is between 20 and 22 years old.

Goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, 37, who came as a free agent from Marseille, immediately became Rennes' main goalkeeper, taking part in 17 of the 20 opening matches (14 missed goals, 5 dry games). The main defenders are captain Hamari Traore (right), Arthur Theate and Joe Rodon (center), Adrien Truffert (left). The team leaders in the middle of the field are Benjamin Bourigeaud, Flavien Tait and Croatian Lovro Majer. The most productive players this season are Martin Terrier (11 goals and 4 assists in 19 matches) and Amine Gouiri (8/4/14).

Season 2022/23 and the way to the Europa League

In the French Championship, Rennes have played 14 matches to date (8 wins, 4 draws, 2 losses, goal difference: 29–13) and with 28 points are in the third place in the table. Rennes are behind the leading PSG with a 10-point difference. It is worth noting that the last time Bruno Genesio's team lost back in August, and the unbeaten series in all tournaments already has 16 matches.

In the UEFA Europa League, Rennes played in Group B with Turkish Fenerbahce, Dynamo Kyiv and AEK from Larnaca. Having started the tournament with a guest victory over the Cypriots (2-1) and a home draw with the Istanbulites (2-2), the Bretons beat Dynamo twice in the paired rounds: in France, the teams exchanged goals by Terje and Tsyhankov in the first half, and Due's kick in the 89th minute (2-1) was the winning one for the hosts, on the Kyivan field the only goal was scored by Wooh (1-0). In the remaining two meetings, Rennes first staged a shootout in Istanbul (scoring three times in the first half hour of the game, the French managed to lose the win at the end 3-3), and then failed to beat AEK at home (1-1). These draws cost the team the lead in the group: Fenerbahce took first place with 14 points and went directly to the 1/8 final, while Rennes scored 12 points and joined the knockout round play-offs with Shakhtar.

Shakhtar match background

The only match in the history of confrontation between Rennes and Shakhtar took place in the group round of the UEFA Cup – 2005/06. The format of that season involved one match between the teams. On December 1, 2005, the opponents met at Ruazon Park, and Elano's goal in the 38th minute ensured a 1–0 victory for the Miners. As a result, Donetsk reached the playoffs of the tournament, and the French finished last in the group.