Rennes manager Julien Stephan looks set to field a youthful team at Celtic Park on the night Neil Lennon’s Hoops hope to win the group, The Scottish Sun report.
Celtic host the French Cup winners after the international break on 28th November, with Cluj kicking off away to Lazio in Rome at the same time.
Although we have already qualified for the knockout stages, finishing in first place should still be a major ambition given the financial and seeding benefits that would bring.
If Lennon’s team win against Rennes and Cluj lose in Italy it would mean we are four points ahead of the Romanians with just one match to play, confirming we’d achieve that feat.
Interesting then that Rennes look to be focusing on player development rather than picking up a result.
As quoted by The Scottish Sun, Stephan said of the fixture: “I don’t view the two remaining games in the Europa League as not important. I see it as a great opportunity to use it to give our young players a chance to taste European football.
“They will only learn by being put into an environment like Celtic Park so it will be excellent for them to experience this.”
A big advantage?
A look at Rennes’ match away to Cluj last Thursday night shows that no teenagers started that match, with the majority of the team made up of players well into their 20s at least (WhoScored).
Stephan could be ringing the changes for the Celtic visit then.
When you also consider they have a big Ligue 1 clash against St-Etienne just days later, who are also vying for European qualification places in the French top-flight, it means we could see a much-weakened side take the field.
That does present Celtic with a potentially big advantage.
We must remain wary of course. No doubt they have a number of talented youngsters on their books. It’s also true that teams can play with freedom and confidence when both an influx of young players come into the eleven and there’s no pressure on getting a result.
However, a motivated Celtic side on current form should have enough to see off the French visitors, with 60,000 fans crossing their fingers that Lazio also beat Cluj.