Yannis Sapountzakis writes from Rennes about the pressure on the French team ahead of the match against Panathinaikos, about their stadium that “reeks” of history but also about the tradition on French soil.
Definitive as far as it goes to the goals that Panathinaikos will have ahead of the last two Europa League group games, it’s the match against Rennes at the “Roisson Park”. After the defeat at the Avenue de France against the French, the greens will need a positive result in Brittany in order to remain firmly within the trick of qualifying for the next phase of the Europa League and of course to keep alive the hopes of the first place that ensures a direct ticket to the “16” of the event.
Certainly, in his attempt, Ivan Jovanovic’s group will find against him a very high-quality team which, as it was seen in the Avenue race, has attacking virtues but also defensive issues. For Panathinaikos, however, there is one more element that can be a “trump card”. The pressure in the camp of the French team is great. Sunday night’s defeat in Nice by the local side added to a string of negative results in the French league and even cast doubt on Bruno Genesio’s own place on the team’s bench.
Rennes after 11 games in Ligue 1 counts only 2 wins, 6 draws and 3 losses. A report that can be anything but positive given the goals of the team at the beginning of the season, but also the investments made in the summer.
It is possible that the French coach claimed at Wednesday’s press conference that he does not read what is written in the press and that he does not feel pressure, however, he was the same one who admitted in another question that his team has found itself in this position also because of expectations that exist in the French league and so far he has not managed to justify.
Of course, the championship is different, the Europa League is different. However, for a team competing in front of their world, the demand for victory is greater when recent results have been unsuccessful. The whole atmosphere, therefore, that prevails may be an ally of Triphyllios, especially in the event that the match does not start as, possibly, Bruno Genesio and his associates have planned.
Rennes – Panathinaikos: Wiltor, Cech and the others
Thursday’s match will be held in a completely different setting compared to the one that prevails in Greece in terms of weather. The greens left behind the… Greek summer of November and traveled to France, which introduced them to winter. Cold, rain and wind make up a landscape that reminds us all of the season we are in.
The stadium of Rennes is old and one can understand this in every corner. The press room is small, while most of its interiors bear witness to the passage of time. Nevertheless, it is a stadium that makes it clear to the visitor that this is a club with more than 120 years of history. On a wall on one of the long sides of the pitch, the figures of some of the greatest footballers who have worn the shirt of Rennes in the past have been drawn. From Sylvain Wiltor and Petr Cech to Champagne Noda and Alexander Fry.
Panathinaikos: For the maiden victory on French soil
Against Rennes on Thursday night, the greens will look for their first win on French soil. The shamrock, until today, in its seven visits to the country has counted 5 defeats and 2 draws. Of course, out of the five defeats, the most recent one had a very sweet character. We are referring, of course, to August’s 2-1 victory at the Velodrome, which was combined with Ivan Jovanovic’s side’s epic penalty shoot-out victory over Marseille.
Of the two draws he has managed to wrest the trefoil from French teams, one was in December 1995, a few kilometers away from here, in Nantes in the Champions League. The second at Auxerre in February 2004 for the round of 16 of the then UEFA Cup.
It remains to be seen whether that tradition will be broken on Thursday night at Rosen Park by Ivan Jovanovic’s side, who have proven this season that they can do it at any venue.