Rennes won their last two group games to reach the round of 32 for the first time, while Betis have appeared at this stage only once previously.
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Wins in their last two group games enabled Rennes to clinch a first ever qualification for the round of 32, where they will meet undefeated Group F winners Real Betis, who are appearing at this stage of the UEFA Europa League for the second time.
• Rennes recovered from three successive defeats to take Group K's runners-up spot thanks to victories at Jablonec (1-0) and – in a must-win decider – at home to Astana on matchday six (2-0). Betis were less troubled in Group F, where they posted three wins and three draws to qualify with a game to spare and finish two points above both Olympiacos and eliminated AC Milan.
• The clubs have never met in UEFA competition.
• Rennes have won one and drawn one of their two games at home to Spanish opposition.
• Betis have yet to win in four trips to France, losing three games without scoring, including 0-1 at Lyon in their only previous UEFA Europa League fixture in the country, on matchday five in 2013/14.
• Rennes earned their first ever qualifying exemption for the group stage of a major UEFA competition by finishing fifth in Ligue 1 last season.
• They have competed in the UEFA Europa League proper once before, in 2011/12, after coming through two qualifying rounds, but went out in the group stage after losing all three away fixtures and drawing all three at home – against Atlético Madrid, Celtic and Udinese. That was the club's last European campaign before this one.
• Rennes participated twice in the UEFA Cup group stage, in 2005/06 and 2007/08, but were winless in those too (D2 L6). They finally recorded their first group win by defeating Jablonec 2-1 at home on matchday one this season thanks to a last-minute penalty.
• The subsequent 1-2 defeat by Dynamo Kyiv in Brittany on matchday three nevertheless ended a ten-match unbeaten run at home in the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League, qualifying included, for the French club (W5 D5).
• Betis finished one place and two points above Sevilla in last season's Liga to clinch an automatic UEFA Europa League group stage spot at their city rivals' expense.
• Prior to this season, Betis's last opponents in Europe were Sevilla as they lost to the eventual winners on penalties in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League round of 16 after both clubs had won 2-0 at their opponents' stadium.
• That was Betis's first European adventure in eight years; in the round of 32 they overcame Rubin Kazan 3-1 on aggregate (1-1 home, 2-0 away) to set up that all-Andalusian showdown.
• Betis have lost only one of their last ten European away games, winning five including a 2-1 success at Milan on matchday three. They have not conceded more than once in any match during that stretch, keeping six clean sheets.
UEFA Europa League squad changes
In: Souleyman Doumbia, Loïc Badiashile, Armand Lauriente, Eduardo Camavinga, Isaac Matondo
Out: Ludovic Baal, Denis Will Poha
In: Diego Lainez, Jesé Rodríguez, Emerson
Out: Ryad Boudebouz, Takashi Inui, Toni Sanabria
Links and trivia
• Betis right-back Aïssa Mandi played for Reims between 2010 and 2016. He faced Rennes on seven occasions (W2 D1 L4), scoring twice.
• Mandi is an Algeria team-mate of Rennes duo Ramy Bensebaini and Mehdi Zeffane.
• Giovani Lo Celso is on loan at Betis from French champions Paris Saint-Germain, where he arrived in 2016. He has played against Rennes twice with Paris (W1 L1).
• Betis are one of seven teams to have come through the UEFA Europa League group stage undefeated, the others being Salzburg, Dinamo Zagreb, Arsenal, Villarreal, Eintracht Frankfurt and Chelsea.
• Betis conceded only two goals in the group stage – the joint best record alongside Arsenal (Group E).
• Rennes are one of only five clubs involved in this round of 32 who have never previously participated in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase; Dinamo Zagreb, Slavia Praha, Zürich and Malmö are the others.
• There was a change of coach at Rennes on 3 December with the dismissal of Sabri Lamouchi. His place was initially taken on an interim basis by reserve team boss Julien Stéphan, whose first two Ligue 1 matches in charge both resulted in 2-0 wins, prompting the club to give him a deal until the end of the season on 12 December, the day before he led the club past Astana into the UEFA Europa League round of 32. He is the son of Guy Stéphan, the assistant coach to Didier Deschamps of reigning world champions France.
• A former midfielder capped three times by Spain, Santander-born Quique Setién spent most of his playing career with home-town club Real Racing Club, his two lengthy spells there interrupted by shorter stints at Atlético Madrid and Logroñés. His coaching career also began at Racing and eventually prospered in the Canary Islands with Las Palmas. Setién returned to the Spanish mainland to take charge of Betis in May 2017, leading the Seville club to sixth in the Liga at the end of his first season.