For the perilous trip to Rennes, which will proceed the home games against Strasbourg and PSG, the Stéphanois coach wants his team to consolidate its place at the top of the League board. Such a goal requires a positive outcome against a direct competitor for a sport in Europa League.
What is your judgement of your team’s preparation for the trip to Rennes considering the weather conditions?
We’re waiting to see what will happen. We have an artificial turf at our disposal but it is not recommended for certain players. We found a field in good condition by going to Feurs this Wednesday afternoon. We thank the managers of the club for welcoming us. There were members of the public and notably many children. We really made them happy and we were able to train in good conditions.
Youssef Aït Bennasser and Valentin Vada, the two recruits from the winter transfer window, have they integrated themselves well?
We did two full training sessions, Wednesday and Thursday. We tried to improve the physical condition of the two. They need to get back into tip top shape because they come from clubs where they weren’t playing a lot. We’re counting on their ability to adapt in order to integrate themselves in the group. According to what I saw this week, there’s still work to be done. The rhythm of a match, that’s not a training session. They need a good state of mind, the desire and they must integrate themselves into a well-oiled machine. They’re two midfielders, they play at the heart of the game. It’s like the team’s had a transplant. No one is worried but we obviously wonder if they’ll make it soon. We’re looking forward to see what the effect of this will be.
Without the suspended Yann M’Vila, you’ll have to find another player to bring life to the midfielders.
That’s the heart of the problem. We’ve never played without Yann M’Vila or Ole Selnaes. We’ve sometimes played without one of them. We’ll have to do without both, find another solution against Rennes. Whether we’re facing Rennes, Strasbourg or Paris, there aren’t any easy matches. We have to think of ideas. Make the team just for one game and then we’ll see. Do I already have it in mind? I’m not far from saying yes.
What is your analysis of the progress of Stade Rennais since Julien Stéphan took over?
I always have a thought for the one who’s been replaced, in this case Sabri Lamouchi. Last season, he was their savior. But, since the new coach arrived, there’s been euphoria. In December, the Rennais were extraordinary. They have an exceptional player, Hatem Ben Arfa, and other high-level players. Their rise in the rankings has been delayed and they’ll want to make up for that. Rennes is a competitor in the race to the European Cup. Look at his team and bench. They’re below Paris and Lyon, but they number among the four or five teams that can attain 3rd place. Even if Lille made a small opening.
You’re going to play three matches in one week. Is this a turning point for the end of the championship?
After, there will still be 13 matches and 39 points in the game. Even if we succeed this week, nothing will be accomplished. We have to play the matches, take as many points as possible. Stay in the fight. For the moment, we’re well placed. When we play in Strasbourg, no one will play. With these postponements and these late games, everything is a bit skewed. We have a busy January for many reasons. We’re going to try to begin a streak with a good outcome in Rennes.