CFR Cluj are handily placed in Group E with six points and now host a Rennes side they defeated away in a tempestuous Matchday 3 encounter.
Article top media content
Romanian champions CFR Cluj are handily placed in Group E with six points and will hope to further strengthen their qualification chances as they host a Rennes side they defeated away in a tempestuous Matchday 3 encounter that produced three red cards and just one goal – scored early on by Ciprian Deac.
• CFR came from behind to beat Lazio 2-1 at home on Matchday 1 but then lost 2-0 away to Celtic, the team they had eliminated in UEFA Champions League qualifying during the summer, before reviving their hopes and moving into second place, three points above Lazio, with that victory in Brittany. Rennes were held 1-1 at home by Celtic on Matchday 1 and that remains their only point so far, a 2-1 defeat in Rome preceding the home loss to CFR that leaves them at the foot of the group table.
• CFR's victory at Rennes was their first in seven UEFA encounters against French clubs. Their record at home is D2 L1, the defeat having come in the most recent encounter, 1-2 against Bordeaux in the 2008/09 UEFA Champions League group stage.
• Rennes had played just one European match against Romanian opposition prior to Matchday 3, losing 2-0 at Rapid Bucureşti in the 2005/06 UEFA Cup group stage. The French club's coach that day was a Romanian, László Bölöni.
• CFR claimed their fifth Romanian league title – and second in succession – in 2018/19, all those triumphs having come since 2008. In Europe, they lost to Malmö in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League (0-1 h, 1-1 a) and got no further than the UEFA Europa League play-offs, where they were beaten twice (0-2 a, 2-3 h) by Dudelange of Luxembourg.
• A 1-0 loss at Astana kicked off this season's UEFA Champions League campaign, but CFR turned that tie around with a 3-1 home success and went on to beat Maccabi Tel-Aviv (1-0 h, 2-2 a) before memorably knocking out Celtic (1-1 h, 4-3 a). Slavia Praha proved too strong, however, in the play-offs, winning both games 1-0 to send CFR into their second UEFA Europa League group stage; the first, in 2009/10, ended with just one win and five defeats.
• CFR have lost five of their last eight home fixtures in the UEFA Europa League, qualifying included (W2 D1), and have been victorious in only four of their last 11 home fixtures in all European competitions (D2 L5). Their overall record, home and away, in the UEFA Europa League proper is W3 L8, the Matchday 1 win against Lazio having ended a run of seven straight defeats.
• 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).
• Rennes were beaten in their first nine away fixtures in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League group stages, but that sequence ended on Matchday 5 last season with a win at Jablonec (1-0) that was followed by another at Betis (3-1) before their decisive round of 16 second-leg reverse at Arsenal and this season’s loss at Lazio.
Links and trivia
• CFR's French-born Mali international midfielder Yacouba Sylla played for Rennes in 2015/16, making 20 Ligue 1 appearances.
• Sylla is a Mali team-mate of Rennes defender Hamari Traoré, while Lacina Traoré (CFR) and Souleyman Doumbia (Rennes) are Ivory Coast internationals.
• CFR striker Billel Omrani, who scored the Matchday 1 winner against Lazio, was born in France and started his career with Marseille, where he formed a close bond with current Rennes goalkeeper Édouard Mendy. Another Rennes player, Jérémy Morel, was also a team-mate during Omrani's time at the Stade Vélodrome.
• CFR's Lithuanian goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis and Rennes' Senegalese forward M'Biaye Niang were both at Watford during the second half of 2016/17 but never played a first-team fixture together.
• The three red cards shown in the Matchday 3 encounter – to Rennes pair Mendy and Eduardo Camavinga and CFR's Mateo Sušić – equalled the record for a UEFA Europa League match, group stage to final. Mendy's dismissal after five minutes and 38 seconds was the fourth fastest sending-off in the competition's history.
• Pépé Bonet, who replaced Mendy in that game, became the youngest goalkeeper ever to appear in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, aged 16 years and 253 days – and the fifth youngest player overall.
• The sixth most-capped Romanian international of all time, with 95 appearances, Petrescu played in four successive major tournaments from 1994 to 2000. The attacking right-back also carved out a successful career at club level, notably with Steaua Bucureşti and in England at Chelsea, with whom he spent five years and won three major trophies. He has had a diverse coaching career, the highlight a surprise Romanian title triumph with Unirea Urziceni in 2008/09 – a feat he repeated with CFR Cluj in 2017/18 and again the following season after returning from China in March 2019.
• 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.