Funny baptism for Stade Rennes. No giant tifo deployed by the ultras from Roazhon Celtic Kop (RCK), no full stadium either. The youngest of the Champions League, the Breton club discovered the queen competition in Europe, Tuesday, October 20, in a funny atmosphere, the Covid-19 pandemic requires. Rennes and the Russian club of Krasnodar, also neophyte, could not decide (1-1).
“And besides, it’s going to rain!” “ On the outskirts of Roazhon Park, some supporters note that the sanitary situation deprives them of a timeless Rennes matches: the galette-sausage, a dish that has a song to its glory in Brittany. All the trucks providing the fans’ food were asked not to come, so as not to risk crowds. “Without a sausage pancake, it will be bland. Usually it’s because it is eaten without sauce, but this is a bit sad ”, breathes Jean-Félix Juguet-Piazzola, RCK member’s scarf tied around the neck. For the rest, this 30-year-old supporter has stars in his eyes, that of the Champions League. “Imagine, we discover this competition 43,690 days after the creation of the club, that makes years of waiting. “ Since the creation of the club, in 1901, if we resume its calculation (European competition only appeared in 1955).
Team still recently subscribed to fatalities – some supporters confide an ounce of disbelief in seeing the red and black among the top European – Rennes had to wait until 2020 to climb into the big leagues of Europe. Third when the championship was interrupted due to confinement, Julien Stéphan’s men validated their direct ticket for the group stage thanks to the victory of Sevilla FC in the Europa League. They will be able to thank the Andalusians next week, the draw having put the two teams in the same group.
The joy of the hymn
Worn by a gala Eduardo Camavinga – a recurring habit for the young neo-Blue – the Rennes started the meeting without fear. In an enclosure warmed by the choirs of 5,000 authorized spectators, the Rennais immediately set foot on the ball. Faced with a diminished opponent – deprived of the Frenchman Remiu Cabella, forced into isolation after a positive test for Covid-19, and their trainer, suffering from angina -, the teammates of captain Benjamin Da Silva tried to take the game on their own. But they struggled, in the first period, to take back the defense of the team from the Caucasus. On several occasions, their goalkeeper Matvei Safonov intervened to reject Rennes attempts.
History will remember that it was from a penalty that Sehrou Guirassy scored Stade Rennais’ first goal in the Champions League. Following a nice breakthrough from Martin Terrier, interrupted by a devastating Russian tackle, the referee, after having initially called on Rennes to resume the game, granted this penalty kick (1-0, 56e). And Roazhon Park could exult, as when the first notes of the Champions League anthem rang in the stadium.
At the call of the club, which made it its watchword, the whole city echoed all day long for the agreements of this “Sacred music”. From a TGV thus announcing the Breton station stop for many inhabitants, raising the sound less than half an hour from the meeting, the hymn composed by Tony Britten invaded Rennes. Before, an hour before kick-off, finally ringing in Roazhon Park, to the cheers of supporters. “It’s a dream music, that of another world to which we did not have access”smiles Antoine Deport, a fan with a face covered with a mask in the colors of the club.
Lack of efficiency and Russian goalkeeper in verve
Accustomed to repetitive disappointments, disillusionment in the cup finals or to miss the boat of the Champions League for a goal at the last minute – the Lille native Nicolas Fauvergue, author of this blow of Jarnac in 2007 was only forgiven in early October -, the people of Rennes have savored the music inspired by Handel’s coronation hymn. The day before, a pragmatic Julien Stéphan had refocused the debate at a press conference: “I’m not waiting for the music, it’s the game I’m waiting for. Music does not earn points. “
And Rennes will have to quickly learn another lesson: in the Champions League, mistakes are paid in cash. Just minutes after opening the scoring, the red and black defense gave Christian Ramirez some latitude. At the right angle of the Rennes area, the Ecuadorian from Krasnodar swivels and ignites a magnificent strike from the left which finds the skylight. All over, center ball (1-1, 59e), and despite a final salvo, where Rennes multiplied the chances, it is with a draw that the two neophytes leave. “What makes the difference is this lack of efficiency and the fact of having fallen on a good goalkeeper”, breathed the Rennes coach after the meeting.
If Eduardo Camavinga’s teammates can harbor some regrets for not having concluded this first time with a victory, they did not miss their debut. Fifteen years to the day after his first participation in the group stages of the late UEFA Cup (which has since become the Europa League) – and a 0-2 loss to Stuttgart -, Stade Rennes has changed gear. From now on, the Breton capital is a stage city of the Champions League. “You are entering a new era, make us proud”, announced the banner of the RCK at the beginning of the meeting. Rennes will have five games – at least – to complete the task.