The ultimate Celtic guide to playing against Rennes
Celtic face Rennes this Thursday in the opening game of the Europa League group stage.
The Hoops qualified through gruelling summer games while the French side got in through winning the cup.
Both teams share a similar culture which will shine through the home and away ties.
However, not every Celtic fan are going into the game full in the mind of what to expect.
The Celtic and Rennes tale of the tape
This isn’t the first time the two sides have collided in their history.
Celtic and Rennes were drawn together in a Europa League group in the 2011/12 campaign with Neil Lennon’s men winning the home game and drawing away.
A 2015 friendly at Parkhead also went the way of the home side and in July this year the pre-season joust finished goalless.
Going into Thursday, Celtic are on better form without a defeat domestically while Rennes are three matches without a win despite a strong start.
How the home side are likely to set up
Rennes are traditionally a 4-3-3 side with tricky wingers and hard working midfielders.
However, up and coming gaffer Julien Stephan is altering that slightly playing a 4-2-3-1 in attack.
Rennes are playing with very attacking full-backs in Hamari Traore and Faitout Maouassa.
This is arguably les rouges et noirs weakest aspect of their impressive team.
Don’t expect Stephan not to alter the shape as the match goes on to a 5-3-2 especially defending.
Rennes are no mugs, beating PSG twice this year and making it to the last 16 of last season’s Europa League – beating Arsenal at home.
Who are the opponents’ danger men?
Celtic are fortunate that the player they should be fearing the most might not even play on Thursday.
Star striker Mbaye Niang is nursing an injury from training and didn’t play the 0-0 weekend derby at Brest.
New signing Raphinha signed for the French cup winners late in the summer window for 20 million euros.
The former Sporting Lisbon man played his first match at the weekend had a goal chopped off by VAR.
Benjamin Bourigeaud is a midfielder similar to Kris Commons when he burst onto the scene at Celtic.
He can hit the spectacular free kicks and chip in with a goal and an assist.
While Edouardo Camavinga is a 16-year-old midfield maestro breaking into the first team.
Captain Damien da Silva is a rock at the back and will make Odsonne Edouard work for his money.
Where are the key battles?
Raphinha vs Christopher Jullien
Despite being a winger, Raphinha will have a free role and will test the former Toulouse stopper.
He will be a pacey bag of tricks and will either be on the end of through balls or pinging them himself.
Jullien cannot take his eyes off of the Brazilian – he is a fair step above the likes of Sheyi Ojo and Jordan Jones.
Edouardo Camavinga vs Scott Brown
The veteran midfielder is going to be up against a teenager playing far above his age bracket.
He will need to treat the Frenchman in a similar manner to Hearts’ Harry Cochrane.
However, the youngster will rise to the challenge and try to play football – Brown will need to nip him in the bud from kick-off.
Damien da Silva vs Odsonne Edouard
This is perhaps battle of the night as both men are going to be on their best form.
Edouard is improving on his all round game and wants to lay down a marker to the French national sides.
Whereas da Silva is an experienced head who is used to playing against some of the best strikers in Europe.
The defender was an integral part on Rennes’ impressive cup winning run last season – beating PSG in the final.
A few words from our man on the inside
John Gray is a football fanatic who “swapped the bustle of Basingstoke for the more pedestrian lifestyle of Pleumeleuc in Brittany.”
He worked as an interpreter for Rennes during the 2011/12 Europa League campaign.
John told 67HailHail: ” It was a huge occasion for me.
“The first time we had faced a British club during my time in Rennes, and to be in the middle of things was a huge honour.
“When Neil Lennon arrived at the ground he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.
“He came within an ace of losing his job in a game at Kilmarnock the previous weekend.
“I was also asked to make security and safety announcements to the Celtic away following in the second half and at the end of the game.
“Not sure that the visiting Scots appreciated having a guy with an English accent making the announcements, but it went off without a problem.
“The Rennes and Celtic fans seem to get on like a house on fire, happily cohabiting in the city centre before the match.
“After the match, Lennon was understandably happy with the point, although the atmosphere at the ground was somewhat better than the football on the pitch.”
If Celtic can rattle Rennes early on then they are in with a chance of a win.
However, if the game goes how it should then the predicted result is a 1-1 draw.
The home side do have it in them to win the match so the Hoops shouldn’t count their chickens.
This is a fantastic opening match for what will be another European campaign full of drama.