UEFA Europa League - 2019/20 SeasonMatch press kits
|Stade Rennais FC||Roazhon Park - RennesThursday 19 September 2019|
18.55CET (18.55 local time) Group E - Matchday 1
Two clubs that reached the knockout phase last season return to the UEFA Europa League group stage, with Rennes, round of 16 participants last term, hosting a Celtic side that have been eliminated at the round of 32 stage in the past two campaigns.
• Celtic got the better of Rennes on the only previous occasion that the clubs were paired together in UEFA competition, drawing 1-1 away and winning 3-1 at home in the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League group stage – though neither club made it through to the next round from a group topped by eventual winners Atlético Madrid.
• Rennes have yet to win any of their four games against Scottish clubs, having also drawn at home (1-1) and lost away (0-1) against Rangers in the first round of the 1971/72 European Cup Winners' Cup – a competition the Glasgow team went on to win.
• Celtic have won just five of their 16 UEFA matches against French clubs, falling to their heaviest ever European defeats both home and away when Paris Saint-Germain overran them 5-0 in Glasgow and 7-1 at the Parc des Princes in their two most recent encounters, on matchdays one and five respectively of the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League. The Bhoys' solitary win in France came on their maiden visit, at Nantes (3-1) in November 1966 en route to their European Champion Clubs' Cup triumph.
• Rennes earned their second successive direct qualification to the UEFA Europa League group stage by defeating holders Paris Saint-Germain on penalties in a dramatic 2018/19 French Cup final. They also reached the UEFA Europa League round of 16 last term, finishing second in their group with nine points and knocking out Real Betis before succumbing 4-3 on aggregate to eventual runners-up Arsenal (3-1 h, 0-3 a).
• The Brittany club are in their third UEFA Europa League group stage, the first of their campaigns in 2011/12 having ended unsuccessfully after three home draws and three away defeats. Rennes also participated twice in the UEFA Cup group stage, in 2005/06 and 2007/08, but were winless in those too (D2 L6).
• A 1-2 defeat by Dynamo Kyiv on matchday three last season is Rennes' only loss in their last 14 UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League home fixtures (W7 D6).
• Celtic won the domestic treble of Premiership, Scottish Cup and League Cup for an unprecedented third successive season in 2018/19 but in Europe they missed out on the UEFA Champions League group stage and lost five matches in the UEFA Europa League, including both round of 16 encounters against Valencia (0-2 h, 0-1 a).
• This term Celtic again failed to negotiate the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, losing to Romanian champions CFR Cluj (1-1 a, 3-4 h), but a comprehensive play-off win over Swedish title holders AIK (2-0 h, 4-1 a) enabled them to reach the UEFA Europa League group stage for the sixth time. Two of their previous five participations at this juncture have been successful, including last season, but they have yet to progress beyond the round of 32.
• Until last season's matchday five win at Rosenborg (1-0) the Glasgow club had never won outside Scotland in the UEFA Europa League. Their other 17 away matches in the competition proper have brought nine defeats and eight draws.
Links and trivia
• Celtic have three Frenchmen in their squad: Christopher Jullien, Odsonne Édouard and Olivier Ntcham.
• Ntcham and Rennes defender Romain Del Castillo were team-mates in the France squad that reached the semi-finals of this year's UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
• Handed the coaching reins at Rennes on an interim basis in December 2018, reserve team boss Julien Stéphan made such a positive impact that he was soon handed an 18-month deal. In the spring of 2019 the Rennes native not only led the Brittany club into the UEFA Europa League round of 16 but also to a sensational Coupe de France final victory on penalties against Paris Saint-Germain. He is the son of Guy Stéphan, the assistant coach to Didier Deschamps of reigning world champions France.
• Having just left Hibernian, former Northern Ireland international Neil Lennon returned for a second spell as Celtic manager in February 2019 following Brendan Rodgers' mid-season move to Leicester City, and duly sealed the club's 'treble treble' of domestic trophies. He had previously served the Glasgow club as player (2000–07) and manager (2010–14), capturing 16 trophies during those spells, though it was at Leicester, where he won two League Cups under his compatriot Martin O'Neill, that he first made his mark as an industrious and effective midfield anchorman.