Dan Petrescu’s CFR Cluj side get set to travel to Stade Rennais tonight, and the Romanian tactician has certainly been praising the Ligue 1 giants.
Rennes and Celtic met in the Europa League on matchday one. The French outfit failed to overcome Neil Lennon’s side in a 1-1 stalemate. Many would be of the opinion that Celtic were the better side in that contest too.
Cluj came to Celtic Park and were bossed three weeks ago in their 2-0 defeat. It was a brutal putdown for the Romanian champions, who were taught at lesson when revenge hit them hard in Glasgow.
But Petrescu, who has watched all of the teams in the group stage in action, believes a favourite can’t be chosen. Speaking to DigiSport, this is what he had to say:
“The fact that Rennes haven’t won in nine matches is a double-edged sword. I do not know how their team will react. I said that I would be happy with a point.
“That’s normal, Rennes is no weaker than Lazio or Celtic. That does not mean we will play defensively. CFR has shown in other matches in Europe that it plays for victory.”
Petrescu is probably right – not much between the sides
Whist our natural reaction would be to tell him why he’s wrong, Petrescu is probably right here. Neither side truly dominated between Rennes and Celtic in France, regardless of the fact the onus was on the French side to do so.
Cluj have managed to overcome Lazio already, whilst the Italians knocked off Rennes. It’s ridiculously tight at the moment, and Petrescu is right to put Rennes in the same bracket as the rest of us.
The French side may only have one point so far. However, expect that to change substantially between now and the end of the group stage.
That’s what makes all of these Europa League games intriguing. Whilst we do consider ourselves now to be the better team over Cluj, there’s generally never much in the group stages. It’s not like the Champions League, where you can almost predict who will finish where with ease.
In the Europa, teams are generally of a similar standard. Anything can happen, and being top seeds doesn’t always mean you’re the favourites for the group. It leads to a more exciting product to participate in, even if it isn’t more financially positive.
At the same time, Petrescu is also likely playing his usual games with Rennes. He likes to big up the opposition before he faces them. But until the group is over, no side can truly say they’re proven to be better than another.