Rennes can take another step towards ending their 43-year-wait for a major trophy by beating Angers in Tuesday’s Coupe de France semi-final.
Philippe Montanier’s side sit in mid-table in Ligue 1 following a below-par season, but still have a chance to make it a successful campaign.
Rennes have not won a major competition since 1971, when they overcame Lyon 1-0 in the Coupe de France final, alhough they did lift the Ligue 2 title in 1983.
However, Rennes did come close to ending their long drought in last season’s Coupe de la Ligue final, only to suffer a 1-0 defeat to Saint-Etienne.
Montanier’s team are just one game away from a return to the Stade de France, but will need to overcome Brittany neighbours Angers, who are chasing a first major trophy and promotion from Ligue 2.
Angers have suffered heartbreak at the final hurdle in each of France’s two domestic cup competitions, losing in the finals of the 1957 Coupe de France and the 1992 Coupe de la Ligue to Toulouse and Montpellier respectively.
But Stephane Moulin’s men are in the midst of an excellent season, which sees them sixth in Ligue 2, level on points with three other teams in the battle for the third and final promotion place.
And their exploits in the league have been backed up by a dramatic cup campaign that has featured four ties that have gone to extra-time and three penalty shoot-out victories.
Angers’ record in this season’s competition should give them confidence heading into the trip to the Stade de Route de Lorient, especially considering that two of the last five finals have featured teams from outside Ligue 1.
However, there is no question that Rennes will be heavy favourites to progress following their superb performance in the quarter-finals.
Rennes were impressive in their 2-0 win over Lille, Kamil Grosicki and Romain Alessandrini finding the net as they condemned Rene Girard’s UEFA Champions League chasers to elimination in relatively routine fashion.
But Rennes defender Sylvain Armand – who has won the competition three times with Paris Saint-Germain – knows that Rennes will need to perform to the highest standard to seal a place in the final.
“They (Angers) face an uphill task to do something beautiful, but we will not hide,” Armand said after Saturday’s 1-0 Ligue 1 defeat to Monaco, who play Guingamp in Wednesday’s other Coupe de France last-four tie.
“We are slight favourites, but we will not have to think about that. We will have to play our best and qualify.”
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