Rennes against AC Milan, Lens against Fribourg, Shakhtar Donetsk for OM and Toulouse against Benfica in the play-offs

Shakthar Donetsk, AC Milan, Benfica and Fribourg… OM, Rennes, Toulouse and RC Lens know their respective opponents for the Europa League play-offs, following the draw on Monday.

France Télévisions – Sports Editorial



Reading time: 3 min

Steve Mandanda with Stade Rennais on Sunday December 17, 2023. (VALENTINE CHAPUIS / AFP)

After PSG opposed Real Sociedad in the Champions League, French clubs inherited big chunks in the Europa League. The draw for the C3 final play-offs fell on Monday, December 18, at the House of European Football in Nyon, Switzerland. Gennaro Gattuso’s Olympique de Marseille will have to qualify for the round of 16 against Shakthar Donestk. Toulouse will face Benfica. The big piece will be for Rennes, with opposition against AC Milan. Each play-off will face a club transferred from the Champions League. RC Lens, which arrives from the C1, will go to Fribourg. The matches will take place on February 15 and 22.

It is the Bretons who a priori fell on the biggest piece of this draw. Currently third in Serie A, Olivier Giroud and his teammates showed, against Paris Saint-Germain, at San Siro, that it was difficult to move them in their lair.

We are still a little sick, not cured. We will do everything to be level.

Florian Maurice, sports director of Stade Rennais

at RMC Sport

It is a challenge – not insurmountable – which awaits Julien Stéphan’s men, who must also remain focused on the French championship, where they are currently in 13th place. Florian Maurice, sports director of the club, reacted to the microphone of RMC Sport after the draw: “We will try to put on a good show against this club whose size we know. (…) It’s up to us to prepare it and create an exploit because it would necessarily be an achievement if we qualify.

Marseille and Toulouse not varnished either

For Marseille, it’s a trip that looks like a trap against Shakthar Donetsk. On paper, the Olympians have everything to qualify, but we must not forget that the Ukrainians, despite finishing third in their group in the Champions League, won three times, including once against FC Barcelona on November 7. (1-0). Still speaking to RMC Sport, the OM ambassador, Jean-Pierre Papin, was reassuring: “There were other more difficult posters. (…) We came out of a difficult group, we have as many chances of passing as them. Do not despair.

Angel Di Maria will find a bit of Ligue 1 with the meeting between Benfica and Téfécé. Two matches which on paper will be unbalanced to the disadvantage of the Violets: Benfica is the current leader in Liga Portugal but had a difficult campaign in C1 (11 goals conceded). Carles Martinez Novell’s players were able to thwart certain predictions in C3, notably by beating Liverpool on November 9 (3-2) and sometimes find unsuspected resources to raise their level of play. The president of the TFC, Damien Comolli, does not did not hide his enthusiasm from RMC Sport: “They are a legendary team in European football. (…) We knew we were going to come up against a big piece. It’s one of the biggest. I find it fascinating.

Rather balanced draw for Lensois who have not done poorly in the Champions League, and shown what strength of character they have, especially at home, in Bollaert. Friborg is currently sixth in the Bundesliga and should not be underestimated, but the Lensois are on a good dynamic. HAS see if the winter break and the CAN will not turn everything upside down. Frédéric Hébert, the sports coordinator of RC Lens, was cautious at the microphone of RMC Sport: “We’re going to take them very seriously, it’s a team that’s a bit like us.

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