PREVIEW: RENNES - LA MANS
With just nine games left to play in Ligue 1 this season, Carlos Bocanegra and Rennes hope to continue their late resurgence when they face bottom-dwellers Le Mans this Sunday at the Stade Léon-Bollée.
French fans are enjoying the most competitive title race in years with only three points separating the top four teams, with Rennes looking in from the outside in seventh place after three consecutive wins. Rennes Coach Frédéric Antonetti will be relieved to have the full squad back at his disposal with the exception of Yann M'Vila suffering from a stomach virus that kept Fabien Lemoine out of action last weekend.
Sylvain Marveaux was back in training this week after shaking off a groin injury and is expected to return to the starting lineup. With Jimmy Briand and Asamoah Gyan in scintillating form, Marveaux adds yet another dimension to an already potent attack.
Bocanegra is expected to start his sixth consecutive game at left-back after a solid performance last weekend in the 4-1 win over Toulouse.
Le Mans, on the other hand, appear as if they will be certain candidates for relegation. The struggling club have only one win in their past 10 games and have amassed a total of only 21 points for the season. After a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Auxerre last weekend which was made worse by crowd violence, the club recruited Michel Moulin as the new general manager of sports. This was done in an effort to help Coach Arnaud Cormier in the club's fight to stay in Ligue 1.
Cormier must make due with a team depleted by injuries this weekend. Antonio Geder, Rodolphe Roche, and Idir Ouali are all unavailable while Olivier Thomert and Norwegian Fredrik Stromstad returned to training this week and could be included in the game against Rennes. Le Mans are led by leading goal-scorer Anthony Le Tallec, formerly of Liverpool, and Modiba Maiga in the attack.
Rennes are seven points adrift of Marseille, who currently sit in fourth place and occupy the last Europa Cup spot.