Stade Rennais will play its first Europa Conference play-off match this Thursday against the Norwegians of Rosenborg.
This new European competition, sometimes criticized, nevertheless offers a high level in which the Bretons want to look good.
Stade Rennais' European past has given it its finest posters, in particular with the arrival of Zidane's Juventus in the Intertoto Cup or the meeting against Arsenal in 2019.
In the European Cup family, I would like the youngest. Imagined in 2018, the Europa Conference League, or Conference League in its English version, took three years to hatch. While the stadiums slowly find their audience, some supporters will discover the new competition of European football during the play-offs this Thursday. A final stage before the hens in which Stade Rennais will take part with the reception of Rosenborg this Thursday at 8 p.m. at Roazhon Park, before a return match the following week in Norway.
The only French team involved, Bruno Genesio's team will not have the right to make mistakes. Will she play the blow to the full a few days before the derby against Nantes? Its spokespersons assure that yes. “The European Cup, we are not there yet because it is these two matches that will determine our qualification for the group stage. But we are preparing. And we especially did not think of any other possibility than to participate in this group phase, ”assures Bruno Genesio. At his side, Benjamin Bourigeaud abounds. “When you're pro, you want to play every three or four days, it's fun. In Europe, the intensity is different, it's another competition, ”says the midfielder, one of the most experienced of the workforce at the height of his 27 years.
Just over 12,000 seats were sold for @EuropaConLeague's game against @RBKfotball on Thursday night.
The @staderennais is hoping for 15,000 spectators for this play-off, however crucial for the European future of #srfc pic.twitter.com/RWsauCJZdr
- 20 Minutes Rennes (@ 20minutesrennes) August 18, 2021
Without a past, this new “C4” wears some criticism from some haters who are annoyed to see the 3rd of the last Croatian championship or the Irish champion qualify for a European competition. “The Conference League makes UEFA's club competitions more inclusive than they have ever been before,” explained his boss Aleksander Čeferin at the founding of the UECL. Especially since the competition offers itself some high-sounding names. For this compulsory jump-off, Tottenham, Roma, Union Berlin and Feyenoord will be on the lawns. “You shouldn't take it lightly and play it hard. This competition will be very difficult to win. At one time, we thought that going to play in Cyprus or Romania would be easy. But all the teams are hanging on, the European level is getting higher and higher ”,says Frédéric Piquionne, who played the “C4” twice at the time, known as the Intertoto Cup.
When Zidane and Juve came to Rennes
In Rennes more than elsewhere, we know perfectly well what this competition, which has now disappeared, can bring.
In 1999, the Bretons had lived a dream by reaching the "final" of the Intertoto Cup.
In front of them, the Juventus of Turin of Zidane, Del Piero, Inzaghi or Zambrotta.
One of the most beautiful castings that the Route de Lorient stadium (under construction that year) has ever seen.
Two years later, the Rouge et Noir moved to Aston Villa where a certain David Ginola was playing.
“When we entered the field, we were hallucinating.
The lawn, the public, the atmosphere… Everything was different.
It was another world, ”Piquionne remembers.
Used to playing in the Champions League when he coached Lyon, Genesio ardently defends the new competition imagined by UEFA. “Some say it's a cut at a discount. But there are great teams that are going to play it and others that have often been in the Champions League. It will be a tough competition. I see it more as a Europa League bis, ”said the red and black coach.
This Thursday, his team will face Rosenborg, fourth in a Norwegian league which has already seen 15 games played. “It is an experienced club, which has already played a quarter-final of C1 (against Juventus in 1997). We must approach the meeting with confidence but be aware that there will be no catch-up session, ”recalls the coach. On their return, the Rennes residents will have to fly to the charming city of Trondheim, the gateway to the Far North. Everything except a vacation.
The Rennes, who will meet Anders Konradsen and Alexander Tettey, who both wore the red and black jersey, know that a good European course can sometimes spring from difficult matches against teams with low-sounding names.
In 2018, the Bretons had had all the trouble in the world to get out of a Europa League group made up of Kiev, Jablonec and Astana.
A qualification 'which then allowed them to shine against Betis Sevilla and then to come out with the honors against Arsenal.
And don't tell their supporters that it was the little European Cup.
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