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Ligue 1 | Gameweek 24
Mar 3, 2024 at 4.05pm UK
Roazhon Park

1 - 2

Gouiri (90+4')
Blas (74')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Bamba (59'), Junior Kroupi (90')
Toure (56'), Abergel (71')

Preview: Rennes vs. Lorient - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Rennes vs. Lorient - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's Ligue 1 clash between Rennes and Lorient, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Aiming to continue an eye-catching run of form and crack the top six in the Ligue 1 table, Rennes will welcome Lorient to Roazhon Park on Sunday.

The hosts find themselves unbeaten in the last eight top-flight outings, while their visitors currently occupy the relegation playoff place and will bid to continue their climb towards safety.

Match preview

Rennes head into the weekend aiming to take a step closer to European qualification, having given their Ligue 1 top-five hopes a major boost with a fine run since mid-December.

Following a fourth-placed finish last time around, Les Rouge et Noirs endured a particularly disappointing start to the new term, sitting around the bottom end of the division after 16 games having managed just three wins and 16 points, but they have since turned their fortunes around in dramatic fashion.

On the back of a pair of defeats to Monaco and Marseille and a draw with Toulouse in December, Julien Stephan's side embarked on a run of six straight victories around the turn of the year to quickly scale the division, rounding off 2023 with a return to winning ways against Clermont before getting the better of Nice, Lyon, Montpellier, Le Havre and Clermont again in the new year.

They then faced a particularly difficult trip to defending champions and league leaders Paris Saint-Germain last Sunday, and while Stephan's men were unable to make it seven three-point hauls on the bounce in the French capital, they did manage to extend a league unbeaten streak to eight games and take a creditable share of the spoils from a 1-1 draw, albeit in agonising fashion as Goncalo Ramos levelled for their hosts deep into injury time after Amine Gouri looked to have netted the decisive goal in the first half.

Now on the back of a 3-1 triumph away at Le Puy on Thursday to advance to the Coupe de France semi-finals, thanks to Arthur Theate's goal and a Benjamin Bourigeaud brace, Rennes will turn their focus back to Ligue 1 with the aim of making a return to winning ways and with their sights set on the top five, given that sixth-placed Lens and fifth-placed Lille only lead them by one and three points respectively.

Their visitors, meanwhile, will bid to continue their own upturn in form in the fight at the other end of the division, having hugely improved their survival hopes in recent weeks.

Following a dismal start to the 2023-24 campaign, Lorient found themselves somewhat cut adrift in the relegation zone in Ligue 1, as a run of four straight defeats around the turn of the year left them on just 12 points from 18 top-flight outings, having won just two of those while suffering 10 defeats.

Regis Le Bris's side have been able to reverse their fortunes and move into a more competitive position since, though, firstly ending the losing run with a 3-3 draw against Le Havre before notching up three straight victories, seeing off Metz and Reims before a Mohamed Bamba brace and a Julien Ponceau goal sealed a 3-1 triumph away at Strasbourg.

Aiming to make it four on the bounce and move clear of the bottom three, Les Merlus most recently hosted fellow strugglers Nantes on Saturday, with both sides tied on 22 points, but they would come away empty-handed from a 1-0 defeat, as Jean-Charles Castelletto netted the only goal early in the second half.

While that result is certainly a blow to their survival hopes, having passed up the opportunity to establish a cushion over the bottom three, Lorient do only sit in the relegation playoff place behind Montpellier on goal difference and Le Havre by two points, and they will bid to upset the odds on Sunday and stand a chance of escaping the bottom three with a return to winning ways on their travels.

Rennes Ligue 1 form:

Rennes form (all competitions):

Lorient Ligue 1 form:

Team News

Julien Stephan fielded a strong Rennes starting XI for their midweek cup tie against Le Puy, and we should see a similar side on Sunday, with key midfielder Enzo Le Fee, who arrived from Lorient in the summer, remaining confined to the treatment room alongside Fabian Rieder.

One change will be the return of veteran and first-choice goalkeeper Steve Mandanda between the sticks, after Gauthier Gallon started on Thursday, while the back four of Guela Doue, Warmed Omari, Arthur Theate and Adrien Truffert should remain unaltered with Azor Matusiwa and Baptiste Santamaria also set to continue in the engine room in their 4-4-2 shape.

Stephan may shuffle his attack slightly, with Arnaud Kalimuendo expected to come in and lead the line alongside Martin Terrier, while Amine Gouiri and top scorer Benjamin Bourigeaud will look to cause further problems from the wings.

Lorient are unlikely to make many changes to their starting XI for Sunday's trip given the pleasing run of form, with left-back Benjamin Mendy likely remaining sidelined by injury.

In a 3-4-3 shape, Nathaniel Adjei, Julien Laporte and Isaak Toure should again line up in defence, while Panos Katseris has established himself in a right wing-back role since his January arrival from Catanzaro.

Former Chelsea man Tiemoue Bakayoko will fight to come into the midfield from the start after Imran Louza and Laurent Abergel were preferred last time out, while Mohamed Bamba will continue to lead the line with confidence having netted five goals in his five Ligue 1 appearances since joining in January.

Rennes possible starting lineup:
Mandanda; Doue, Omari, Theate, Truffert; Bourigeaud, Matusiwa, Santamaria, Gouiri; Terrier, Kalimuendo

Lorient possible starting lineup:
Mvogo; Adjei, Laporte, Toure; Katseris, Abergel, Bakayoko, Le Bris; Kari, Bamba, Ponceau

We say: Rennes 3-1 Lorient

Lorient should certainly make things difficult for Rennes, given their recent revival and need for points at the bottom end of the division, but the hosts are full of quality and playing at the peak of their powers, and we can only envisage Stephan's men putting another victory on the board on Sunday to continue their march towards the top five.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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