PREVIEW: RENNES - BORDEAUX
French Ligue One leaders Bordeaux come strutting into Rennes on Saturday to take on Carlos Bocanegra and eighth place Rennes at Stade de la Route-de-Lorient.
After starting the previous three matches for head coach Frederic Antonetti, Bocanegra will likely be slotted in at left back for the hosts at the starting whistle.
The US national team captain looked to have fallen out of favor with Antonetti as Bocanegra hardly factored in matches during the month of December and the early portion of January.
A goalless draw against Saint Etienne back on January 20th was thought to have been a job audition for Bocanegra who finally saw the field as a starter. But then the former Fulham man also got the nod in a Coupe de France match versus Saumur and again last week in a win over Grenoble.
Now with the winter transfer window officially closed, the California native appears to be firmly entrenched with the Brittany club until the end of the season.
The 4-0 win over Grenoble was a pleasant sight for Antonetti who had seen his squad end far too many matches this year splitting points with their foes rather than winning games. Les Rouges Et Noirs lead all Ligue One teams with seven draws on the campaign.
The return of striker Asamoah Gyan to the fold will also bring a smile to the head man's face following Gyan's involvement with the Ghanian national team at the recently concluded African Cup of Nations where Ghana finished runners-up to now three-time defending champions Egypt.
Gyan was nothing short of outstanding for the Black Stars as he led the team in scoring with three goals including the game-winning strikes in their quarterfinal and semifinal victories.
Rennes were also considerably active in the transfer market as the club bid adieu to five players this week: Lucien Aubey, Junichi Inamoto, Kevin Bru, Bruno Cheyrou and Jack Collison.
The first place club from France's wine region arrive into Saturday's affair drunk with success having not lost since November 21st, a run of 14 matches in all competitions.
Les Girondins enjoy a six point cushion over second place Montpellier and are still alive in the Coupe de France, Coupe de La Ligue and the Champions League where they will meet Greek club Olympiakos in the first knockout round later this month.
Despite all the good news surrounding the club, rumors persist that head coach Laurent Blanc will leave the club to take the reins of the French national team squad prior to this summer's World Cup, a claim he has repeatedly denied.
Bordeaux was largely quiet during the transfer window as star striker Marouane Chamakh will remain in France until the end of the season. It was rumored that English Premiership clubs Arsenal and Liverpool were both interested in acquiring the Moroccan who leads Les Girondins with seven goals on the year.
The hosts will be able to field a full squad on Saturday while Bordeaux will be without defender Diego Placente who is back in his native Argentina for the birth of his son.