Rennes face moment of truth against Chelsea in Champions League
Rennes will kiss goodbye to their hopes of the Champions League knockout stages if they fail to beat Chelsea on Tuesday night at the Roazhon Park.
Julien Stéphan's side lie bottom of Group E after three games with one point. That came from an opening day draw against FC Krasnodar on 20 October.
A ilittle over a month on from Rennes' first outing in European club football's most prestigious competition, they appear light years from the glamour of the latter stages.
They have won one of their last nine games in all competitions. A 1-0 defeat at home to Bordeaux on Friday hardly provided a boost to their confidence against a side that cruised past them 3-0 at Stamford Bridge on 4 November.
Optimists within the Rennes pen can point to an unfortunate red card for the defender Dalbert. The 27-year-old was harshly adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty area just before half-time. Having already been cautioned for tripping Chelsea striker Timo Werner in the box in the ninth minute, the Brazilian was dismissed.
With Werner bagging his second penalty of the encounter, the hosts waltzed through the second-half after Tammy Abraham added a third.
“When you're going through a difficult moment, you have to look to within side yourself for that little bit extra,” said Stéphan on the eve of a match to be played at an empty stadium due to government-imposed restrictions to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“There's quality in this side,” added Stéphan. “We showed it at the beginning of the season. We mustn't panic even if we are disappointed with the results recently.
"We got results by playing well and we have to find that rhythm again. We'll only get that back with confidence and by being strong. It won't happen if we get too negative about ourselves.”
Rennes will welcome a Chelsea side at the other end of the spectrum. The west Londoners lead Group E with seven points from their three games. A 2-0 win at Newcastle United on Saturday afternoon took them into the top three of the Premier League.
“There's still a lot to do,” said Chelsea boss Frank Lampard before the Rennes game. “The players are right to feel good about themselves during a good run and that should push them to do even better.
“Just because we've won six on the trot doesn't mean we shold lower our intensity. Rennes are a tough side who can play well. We saw that at Stamford Bridge. We're not going to take them lightly.”