Rennes vs Celtic
Europa League Group E
5:55pm Thursday September
Stade de la Route-de-Lorient
Rennes head trainer Julien Stephan believes as he warned his staff that getting out of the group could be harder than last season Celtic are quite near the normal of Europa League rivals Lazio.
Celtic kick their group campaign in Brittany on Thursday while Cluj, their Champions League conquerors, take the Italians.
Rennes achieved the last 16 last season, behind Dinamo Kiev and finishing ahead of Astana and Jablonec and dropping to Arsenal.
However, Stephan explained:”It will be entirely different group from this past year, we think that it’s a stronger group. They are used to winning national names, annually almost, they have won eight titles in a row.
“They are a group that are usually in the Champions League and they’ve got huge experience with many internationals.
“We all know they could play in the air and they’re quite technical. They are a very, very great team and possess technical players like (Callum) McGregor, (Ryan) Christie, (James) Forrest, simply to mention a few.
“They are well balanced and we know how difficult it’s going to be we are lucky to play at house and the supporters are going to play a major part in a possible win for us.
“I do believe Celtic are one of the favourites. As far as expertise they need to be able to execute well, perhaps just behind Lazio.”
Stephan has lost half of their team that won the French Cup before this year but Rennes sit next in the table Paris Saint-Germain during their five games.
“it is a new group, a new year, there’s a new story to be informed and we will need to build a story with a new team,” he explained. “We can’t compare this year with last year, this past year’s history.
“We’re in the process of rebuilding and the group is currently evolving. We have had an excellent start in the league and now we will need to bring it to Europe.”
After sustaining a head injury against 16, christopher Jullien was declared fit to your game.
Before he was forced off the Frenchman clashed with Marios Ogkmpoe and needed medical care.
Hatem Abd Elhamed is compelling for a beginning if Neil Lennon chooses to rest Jullien, however, Leigh Griffiths did not travel after picking up a thigh knock.
Rennes are winless in both of their previous encounters at home, drawing 1-1 with Celtic and dropping 1-3 away in the 2011-12 Europa League group stages.
Celtic are winless in their last seven off European matches against French opposition (D2 L5) since hammering Nantes 3-1 in the 1966-67 European Cup last 16, en route to winning the trophy.
Including qualifiers, Rennes have dropped one of their last 15 home games in European competition (W8 D6), going down 1-2 against Dynamo Kiev in previous year’s Europa League group stage.
In Champions League and also Europa League matches combined, Celtic have won just three of their 45 away team stage games (W3 D11 L31), with a few of those victories coming in last season’s competition (1-0 in Rosenborg).
Celtic’s James Forrest has scored in each of his past four matches in European competition this season, such as in both legs of the Europa League qualifying victory against AIK.
Rennes have begun well in Ligue 1. I hope that M’Baye Niang won’t play. He is lightning fast a lesser version of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. These guys move and can play, and that is what Celtic struggle against.
Celtic will be helpful about the counter-attack, but their reputation is the same. They get scared when they journey away from home. They don’t know where to pitch their defence and whether to play with a sport or not.
They pace out wide, in which they will look to exploit and will have technically gifted players. Celtic have traumas that are defensive and will not threaten here.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-1 (17/2 with Sky Bet)
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