PREVIEW: RENNES - LILLE
Carlos Bocanegra and Rennes will look to rebound from their hiccup when they host high-flying Lille this Sunday at the Route de Lorient.
Les Rouges et Noirs stole the headlines two weeks ago with an impressive 4-2 win over defending champions Bordeaux. Instead of building on that result, they disappointed fans with a shocking upset to lowly Quevilly in cup play before falling to Auxerre after a wonder goal from Ireneusz Jelen.
After a rough December, Bocanegra had seemingly earned back his starting spot at left-back. However, the shocking result at Quevilly led Coach Frédéric Antonetti to shuffle the lineup against Auxerre, with Romain Danzé getting the nod over Bocanegra. The change yielded the same result, so the American defender certainly has a chance to return to the lineup.
The Rennes defense will have little margin for error against the highest-scoring team in Ligue 1. Third-place Lille are missing Brazilian striker Tulio de Melo, who is sidelined for four to six weeks after a knee surgery sustained in practice will require surgery. Gervinho, with 11 goals to his name, seems more than capable of making up for his strike partner's absence.
Attacking midfielder Eden Hazard is another threat up top for Lille. Despite reports linking him to Real Madrid and Arsenal, the skillful 19-year old Belgian recently extended his contract with Les Dogues until 2014.
Ghanian striker Asamoah Gyan will likely lead the Rennes attack, hoping to add to his season tally of nine goals. Lille will also have to focus on winger Sylvain Marveaux, who is enjoying the best season of his young career. Marveaux was instrumental in the win over Bordeaux, scoring the opening goal and drawing a penalty.
Lille are coming off a convincing 2-1 victory over Fenerbahce in the Round of 32 in the Europa League, but will need to recover quickly in time for their trip to Brittany.