Rennes manager Julien Stephan and defender Damien Da Silva have been commenting on the Celtic game ahead of Thursday night.

The Europa League kicks off for what is sure to be yet another exciting campaign. Celtic qualified for the last-32 under Brendan Rodgers in each of the past two years. Neil Lennon will be expected to do at least the same from what is an extremely tough group.

Rennes, Lazio, and Cluj make up the opposition this year. It’s fair to say, however, that it’s also an achievable group to secure qualification from.

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Celtic have qualified for the last-32 of the Europa League in each of the last two years (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

A trip to Brittany is first up, and manager Stephan has warned his players to expect a different kind of game to their 0-0 draw with Brest. Speaking to Ouest France, the gaffer had this to say

“Brest, it’s over. Sequences occurred, situations happened, decisions were made. But now, we have to switch to Glasgow (Celtic). This is a team that is undefeated in their league. A team who is fit, scores goals, who is used to playing in the Champions League. It will be completely different.”

His comments were followed up by defender Da Silva, who stated to Ouest France that his team-mates have been excited for the Celtic fixture.

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“We’ve been waiting for this moment for quite some time. We did not think about it much because we had important matches before. As the record in the league is positive, this is the best way to approach the game. We are ready and we are motivated!”

What represents a good start to the campaign?

To be blunt, a point in France on Thursday night will be a fantastic start to the group stage. Celtic must look at Rennes in particular as their main rivals for second place.

Celtic, however, have to make sure that Cluj become the whipping boys in our group. The Hoops can’t give the Romanians anything if we want to qualify for the last-32. And we could instantly put ourselves in a promising position with a draw on Thursday.

Neil Lennon will have his eyes on three points this week (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

However, Celtic won’t play for it. They’ll look to find Rennes’ weaknesses and exploit them from there. Da Silva clearly represents a positive-thinking group of players in the Rennais dressing room. Stephan, meanwhile, is wary of Celtic and is keen to show us the utmost respect.

All in all, they’re approaching this game with their staff in the right mindsets. But Celtic are coming into the group stages perhaps more confident than any of our rivals. Five wins from five and an away win over our rivals to our name – it’s not bad going at all.

Lennon is unbeaten in two matches against Rennes back in 2011 (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It’ll be so intriguing to see how we match up to a side as good but as beatable as Rennes. Supporters will, at the very least, demand that we’re competitive.

But as for Lenny? He’ll have his eyes on maximum points in France to really put us in dreamland after matchday one.

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