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Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Rennes - prediction, team news, lineups
09/12/2021 14:09:21

Amid reports of a coronavirus outbreak ravaging the squad, Tottenham Hotspur prepare to host Rennes in their final Europa Conference League group stage clash on Thursday.

Antonio Conte's side are second in Group G - level on points with Vitesse - while Les Rouge et Noir are already guaranteed qualification as group winners.

We say: Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Rennes

Until the full extent of Tottenham's reported coronavirus outbreak becomes clear, no-one will know what to expect from Conte's side against the Ligue 1 high-flyers.

The Lilywhites have been impressive at home under Conte, but a fully-fit Rennes squad firing on all cylinders will sense an opportunity to claim a memorable win over a ravaged Spurs outfit and will aim to do just that.

Match preview

Conte's start to life at Tottenham - and in particular the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium - was largely a smooth-sailing ship before COVID-19 reared its ugly head once more, with reports stating that up to seven players and two staff members recently tested positive for the virus.

It remains to be seen what implications the coronavirus cluster will have for this game - and there is yet to be an official communication from the club regarding the matter - but Thursday's game is expected to go ahead as Spurs aim to right the wrongs of their NS Mura humiliation.

Numerous fringe players failed to take their opportunities in Slovenia as Tottenham suffered one of the most embarrassing defeats of their recent European era, but Conte's first-choice XI comfortably saw off Norwich City 3-0 in the Premier League at the weekend.

With seven points taken from a possible 15 in Group G, Spurs can no longer finish top of the group and are now fighting with Vitesse for a second-placed finish, with the Dutch side only behind the Lilywhites on goal difference.

Even with a number of unnamed stars potentially watching this from self-isolation, Spurs will take confidence from their 100% home record under Conte so far - winning four from four on familiar territory during the early days of his reign - but Rennes will need no second invitation to take advantage of Spurs' depleted ranks.

The Gaetan Laborde show was not enough for Rennes to take all three points against Vitesse on the penultimate matchday, but Spurs' humiliating defeat to NS Mura meant that point confirmed Les Rouge et Noir's rightful place in the last-16 stage.

Laborde bagged all three of his side's goals in that pulsating 3-3 draw, which saw Rennes move onto 11 points from a possible 15 in Group G as Genesio aims to steer his side into the knockout stages without a single defeat from the group stage.

Laborde had to take a backseat role at the weekend, though, as it was Martin Terrier's turn to score three in a 5-0 drubbing of Saint-Etienne - with Lovro Majer claiming three assists for himself - while Lesley Ugochukwu also got in on the act.

A 2-1 defeat to reigning champions Lille at the start of this month with a minor blip in Rennes' stellar run of form, but that loss represents Les Rouge et Noir's only defeat from their last 15 in all tournaments, and they face a COVID-hit Tottenham side having scored at least two goals in each of their last six games on the road.

Spurs and Rennes shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw at Roazhon Park back in September, but any hopes of Tottenham rounding off their topsy-turvy European campaign on a high note with a COVID-ravaged squad are slim to say the least.

Team News

Reports have not named the cluster of Spurs players who have tested positive for coronavirus, but Emerson Royal and Bryan Gil are believed to be two of the affected after missing out through 'illness' at the weekend.

Ryan Sessegnon is unavailable following his red card vs. Mura, and Conte could be in a predicament at left-back with Sergio Reguilon taking a knock in the win over Norwich, joining Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso on the sidelines.

Conte will surely put his first-choice XI out on home turf - coronavirus permitting - after players such as Dele Alli and Matt Doherty endured nightmarish evenings in Slovenia.

As for Rennes, Terrier's barnstorming afternoon at Saint-Etienne came to an end just after the hour mark due to injury, but there are no reports of the hat-trick hero nursing anything serious.

Kamaldeen Sulemana could come in either way as Genesio rotates his resources with qualification assured, but Flavien Tait could miss out once more alongside Jeremy Gelin, while Jeremy Doku and Birger Meling both missed the weekend's win and are doubts.

Ugochukwu, Loic Bade and Loum Tchaouna could also be handed opportunities to impress from the first whistle, even with the latter one booking away from a suspension.

Tottenham Hotspur possible starting lineup:

Gollini; Sanchez, Dier, Rodon; Tanganga, Skipp, Hojbjerg, Davies; Lucas, Kane, Son

Rennes possible starting lineup:

Gomis; Traore, Bade, Omari, Truffert; Majer, Ugochukwu, Martin; Bourigeaud, Guirassy, Sulemana

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