Two teams at contrasting ends of the Ligue 1 table meet at Roazhon Park on Saturday, when third-placed Rennes host 18th-placed Saint-Etienne, who are just two points away from safety.
Rennes are currently six points behind second spot while they risk falling out of the top five as they are only three points above Strasbourg in sixth, meaning that they have to finish the season strongly to secure their Champions League qualification place.
Bruno Genesio’s side suffered back-to-back defeats earlier this month, for the first time since the end of August, but they bounced back emphatically last time out, with a 5-0 win over Lorient.
That was a very comfortable outing for Rennes, whose goals came from Benjamin Bourigeaud, Martin Terrier, Hamari Traore, Flavien Tait and Gaetan Laborde.
Not only will the five goals have pleased Genesio last weekend, but their first clean sheet in 13 matches across all competitions would have been a welcome sight ahead of their last four games of the campaign.
Rennes have kept 12 clean sheets in their 34 league matches so far, a stat that is only bettered by Marseille and Nice, but having netted 75 goals, Saturday’s hosts will be confident that they can outscore their visitors even if they do not manage to stop Saint-Etienne from scoring.
Pascal Dupraz’s side have to bounce back from a heavy 4-1 defeat against Monaco last Saturday, when Saint-Etienne would have felt that they played well enough to secure at least a point, having dominated possession and created some good chances on goal.
The Stephanois need to limit the amount of chances they are allowing their opposition, though, having conceded 17 in their last five games, and they are in for another tough test defensively this weekend, given Rennes’ powerful attack.
Three of their last four matches are against teams currently sat in the top half of Ligue 1, suggesting that Saint-Etienne will have to pull off some shock results, starting this Saturday, to avoid going into a relegation playoff.
After a fourth-placed finish in 2019, Saint-Etienne have declined in Ligue 1, finishing 17th and 11th in the seasons since then, and even though this campaign has been another year of disappointment for the club, they will have to salvage something in the remaining games of this season to avoid relegation.
This weekend’s visitors need to improve on the last result that occurred in the reverse of this fixture in December, when Rennes secured a comfortable 5-0 win at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.
Rennes Ligue 1 form:
Saint-Etienne Ligue 1 form:
We say: Rennes 2-0 Saint-Etienne
After a solid 5-0 win last time out, Rennes are expected to follow that up with another victory against a side in the bottom half of the table and low on confidence.
Their contrasting league positions make the hosts strong favourites for this tie, and Saint-Etienne are certain to be in for a tough test this weekend.