Leicester City will make the trip to France to take on Rennes, looking to book a place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa Conference League.
Rennes have found some form of late domestically, as four wins in a row have propelled them into the fourth spot in the Ligue 1 table. They can take confidence from their displays in the league and carry the momentum forward when they take on Leicester City in the UEFA Europa Conference League on Thursday night.
Rennes were considered one of the strongest teams in the competition from the early stages, although Leicester’s from the Europa League have made their prospects difficult. They are down by two goals already after the first leg of their Last 16 tie and may be eliminated in the return leg on Thursday.
Bruno Genesio’s side have found good form in Ligue 1 and are now in firm contention to qualify for the Champions League via a top-three finish. Winning the Conference League will only get them a place in the Europa League next season, meaning focusing on domestic affairs could be the priority for the French club at the moment.
Leicester City’s priorities are contrasting to Rennes, as Brendan Rodgers will look to win the Conference League to have a chance at playing in Europe next season. The manager’s priorities were evident with his team selection for the Arsenal game on Sunday, as he kept some of his important stars on the bench with the Rennes clash in mind.
Leicester are not in a good position domestically. They have performed below their standards this term after almost clinching a Champions League spot in the previous campaign. Currently sitting in 12th place in the English top-flight, winning the Europa Conference League remains their only hope of competing in Europe next season, albeit in the Europa League.
Marc Albrighton and Kelechi Iheanacho scored in the first leg at the King Power Stadium to put the Foxes in pole position to progress to the Europa Conference League quarter-finals. Yet, Rodgers may not take any risks and field his strongest possible team at Roazhon Park.
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Bruno Genesio does not have many problems with his roster, but first-choice goalkeeper Alfred Gomis has been ruled out due to an injury he picked up against Lyon over the weekend. In addition, key forward Jeremy Doku is also missing due to a calf issue.
It could open up a spot in the starting lineup for Lovro Majer out on the left flank, while Benjamin Bourigeaud is expected to line up on the right-wing, with the pair looking to act as the supply line of chances for the strikers, Gaetan Laborde and Martin Terrier.
Otherwise, the team will look similar to the one that beat Lyon in Ligue 1. Dogan Alemdar will likely start between the posts in Gomis’s absence, with a back four consisting of captain Hamari Traore, Warmed Omari, Nayef Aguerd and Adrien Truffert in front.
The onus of stifling the Leicester City midfield will likely fall on the shoulders of Baptiste Santamaria, who will be supported by veteran star Jonas Martin in the centre of the park.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Alemdar; Traore, Omari, Aguerd, Truffert; Bourigeaud, Martin, Santamaria, Majer; Laborde, Terrier
Timothy Castagne, Jamie Vardy, Jonny Evans, Danny Ward and Ryan Bertrand are certain absentees for the visiting side. Wesley Fofana also remains a doubt ahead of Leicester’s trip to his homeland.
After resting many of his key stars for the Arsenal clash on Sunday, Brendan Rodgers will look to field a strong lineup on Thursday. James Justin is likely to come in for the jaded Ricardo Pereira at right-back. The rest of the back four could look the same. Caglar Soyuncu, Daniel Amartey, and Luke Thomas could keep their places in the side.
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There could be changes made in midfield and the attacking unit for the Rennes clash. Wilfred Ndidi and Youri Tielemans could come back in central midfield and partner Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall there.
In-form winger Harvey Barnes should keep his spot on the left side of the Leicester attack. There could be a place for Patson Daka at the tip of the Leicester frontline, with James Maddison likely to slot in on the right side. Kelechi Iheanacho and Marc Albrighton will be ones making way.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Schmeichel; Justin, Amartey, Soyuncu, Thomas; Tielemans, Ndidi, Dewsbury-Hall; Maddison, Daka, Barnes
- Rennes have won four of their last five matches in all competitions (L1), although the only defeat in this run came in the first leg against Leicester City.
- Rennes have won each of their previous four Ligue 1 matches and have scored 14 goals in those games.
- Prior to their defeat to Arsenal on Sunday, Leicester City were on a four-game winning streak across all competitions.
- This will only be the second time these teams are meeting, with the Foxes winning the last (first leg) encounter.
- Leicester City have won each of their three games in the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League this season.
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Leicester City visibly missed the expertise of the Belgian midfielder on Sunday when he was benched against Arsenal. The idea was to keep him fresh for the UEFA Europa Conference League clash, as the Foxes are prioritising winning the competition.
While Tielemans’s future beyond this season remains a huge doubt, the midfielder will be eager to depart the club after winning more silverware. The Foxes will be looking at the midfielder to deliver another strong performance, similar to those that helped them lift the FA Cup last season.
Rennes 1-2 Leicester City
The Foxes will be able to operate on full power against Rennes, after resting a few of their key players at the weekend. So, the chances of them winning this match are very high. With the addition of Patson Daka, Wilfred Ndidi and Youri Tielemans, Leicester should improve in both halves of the pitch.
Rennes may have been in strong goalscoring form themselves, but they might find it difficult to get past Brendan Rodgers’s men, as they found out in the first leg. Expect the visiting side to bag a victory in France and advance to the next stage of the UEFA Europa Conference League.