6th-place Rennes make the long journey down to the Stade de la Mosson in the south of France this weekend to take on midtable Montpellier on what is an action-packed day of Ligue 1 action, with seven matches due to take place this Sunday.
The clash will be the penultimate game of the day, with a mouth-watering encounter between Marseille and Lyon kicking off after the conclusion of this game. With the 85th season of Ligue 1 football slowly coming towards an end, it means that each team has just seven matches left to play to achieve their respective goals.
In this matchup, the hosts Montpellier come into the match with nothing to really play for considering the fact that they seem to have done enough to have secured their place in the top-flight for yet another season, seeming to have put enough of a distance between themselves and the relegation battle taking place just a few places below them in the table.
Montpellier are currently in 13th place, and there is a five-point gap between them and Auxerre who are below them in 14th. And when taking the four teams currently in the relegation zone into consideration, Montpellier are eight points clear of the highest of those four sides in Strasbourg, who have 29 points, and with these four teams still having some tough fixtures to play, Montpellier know that they are most likely safe.
It is the visitors who actually need something from this match, with a slot in next season’s European football calendar still a possibility for Rennes. Currently in 6th place, the Brittany side are just two points behind 5th-place Lille, who occupy the final spot that would provide a shot at European football.
The 5th place spot in Ligue 1 offers whoever finishes there a spot in the play-off round of the new UEFA Europa Conference League competition. Direct qualification to the Europa League is also still a possibility, albeit a very slight one due to the eight-point difference between Rennes and Monaco who currently occupy that spot in 4th. But ultimately it is Rennes who need to leave this game with the three points, as they do still have something to play for in comparison to their opponents.
Now Montpellier actually come into this game on better form than their opponents despite their much lower league position, with 3 wins to their name from their last six outings. Successive wins against Angers, Ajaccio and Clermont provided La Paillade with a huge injection of momentum that dragged them away from dropping into a late-season relegation battle, and they sustained that momentum with an impressive point away at 2nd-place Marseille. That draw capped off what had been a very impressive month for the club.
However, any momentum gained from those wins has now been halted, with the month of April starting off terribly for Michel Der Zakarian’s men. They have suffered successive 2-1 defeats to both Toulouse and Lille, including conceding two goals within the space of two minutes in the latter game. And this slight dip in form has come at a bad time, with Montpellier’s next three matches (this weekend’s match with Rennes, before away trips to both Monaco and Lyon) all coming against top eight sides who all desperately need points themselves.
The home side will need to sort out their recent poor performances before this weekend, especially with Rennes coming into the match on the back of a comprehensive 3-0 victory at high-flying Stade de Reims. In contrast to Montpellier’s three, Rennes have just two wins from their last six matches going into this weekend, having also suffered defeats to Marseille, Lens and Lyon recently. But despite those three damaging defeats, what can’t be sniffed at is who Rennes have beaten recently – Will Still’s impressive Reims side, alongside a 2-0 win at the home of the league leaders PSG.
Now Les Rennais are only two points behind 5th-place Lille, and although Lille have the easier run-in of the two clubs as well as that two-point advantage, it is still going to be a tight race between the two as Rennes aim to secure European football once again after exiting the Europa League at the knockout stage this season. Considering the fact that they desperately need these three points to get closer to achieving their goal alongside the fact that Montpellier really have nothing to play for, Rennes will fancy themselves to pick up a second win on the bounce to take into their final six matches of the season.
Now from the 35 prior league meetings between these sides, Montpellier have picked up a total of 10 wins, while Rennes have picked up 16. Rennes have won the last three times that these sides have met and nine out of the last 15 meetings. In stark contrast, Montpellier have just two wins out of those last 15 meetings. And we think that Rennes will now make that 17 wins, as we do expect them to win this weekend.
Rennes are in need of the points more, and their stronger squad of players should help them to achieve a win similar to the 3-0 scoreline they won by in the reverse fixture back in October. The hosts are priced at 21/10 odds to win, while the visitors from Brittany are priced at 5/4.
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