In the Rafters of the Roazhon: Rennes vs PSG Fan Gallery and Experience


On Sunday August 18th, Rennes beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 to go level at the top of Ligue 1.

But not to the conventional manner on ‘PINT’, the match is but a side note of what was a fantastic experience for me personally.

So, my footballing background. A Liverpool fan since birth. I manage to go to the beautiful stadium that is Anfield on a regular basis; there is simply nothing like the roar of passionate Reds.

My family and I would venture to northern France this year, along the Côte de Granit Rose. After their 2018 World Cup win, the French Ligue 1 is becoming a more competitive and high quality league, still with the sneering dominance of Paris Saint-Germain towering above all else in their wake.

And with the surprise challenge of a Nicolas Pepe-powered Lille coming to no avail last term, it was looking ever more inevitable that Thomas Tuchel’s men would reign powerfully at the paramount of French football once again. No team, surely, could compete both on and off the pitch with the Parisians?

Stade Rennais, after losing star man Ismaila Sarr to Watford, had strengthened this window. With the arrivals of M’Baye Niang on a permanent deal and Flavien Tait, and the promotions of promising youngsters Sacha Boey and the league’s youngest ever player Eduardo Camavinga, they would prove a stern test to any visiting Roazhon Park.

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The two sides’ previous encounters have proved nothing short of feisty, competitive and tough football, not three adjectives you’d totally associate with Ligue 1 at first glance.

The previous meeting came in the le Trophee des Champions, the French equivalent of the Community Shield, with PSG winning 3-0, and before that the 2018/19 Coupe de France Final. Infamous for Neymar’s outbursts at Rennes supporters after the game reach its climax, le Rouges et Noirs lifted the trophy after penalty drama.

Before the game, a local fan told us that “They went 2-0 up and we came back. They don’t like us. Now they are thinking of us like a bogey team.” This proves maybe, after all that was thought of PSG’s governing of Ligue 1, that the joker in the pack was Stade Rennais.

The matchday atmosphere was certainly a little different to the ones I’ve experienced a la Scouse. A lot less pubs around the ground, plenty of baguette and hot-dog stands. It wasn’t quite the ‘grab a pint and go’ feeling.

Time was fast approaching and we made our way into the ground, alongside the passionate Rennes ‘Kopalikes’. The atmosphere gradually built before the match in what was an absolutely stunning stadium.

Even the mascot, ‘Erming’, a white bear sporting a Stade Rennais shirt, was able to dictate what was a seriously knowledgeable crowd. The players came out to warm up to rapturous applause and cheers from the home supporters, who may be the first I’ve seen celebrate goals during the warm-up. Truly immersed.

RENNES: Salin; Traore, Da Silva, Gelin, Morel, Maouassa; Camavinga, Grenier, Bourigeaud; Del Castillo, Niang. 

PSG: Areola; Meunier, Silva, Diallo, Bernat; Draxler, Marquinhos, Verratti; Mbappe, Cavani, Di Maria 

The match began with the boisterous PSG away crowd jumping into full song, whatever happened on the pitch. It was almost as if they weren’t watching.

Marquinhos and Thiago Silva gained possession and control of the match almost immediately, with Verratti pulling the strings without being able to convert anything until late in the first half.

After a mistake from Da Silva, Uruguayan striker and PSG record scorer Edinson Cavani latched on to finish coolly past Salin. He ran with hair and arms aloft in front of the ‘Ultras’. Paris led 1-0 and Julian Stephan’s men hadn’t woken up.

It didn’t take the hosts long to respond though. After a driven cross from Hamari Traore, former Footy Manager wonderkid M’Baye Niang fired home after a beautifully controlled swivel and finish. 1-1, half time, and the home side looking potent on the counter.

The second half began as the first ended, with the visitors on the back foot and looking vulnerable on the counter attack. And it took just three second half minutes for the game to be turned on its head.

The aforementioned Camavinga, a teenage wonderkid who looked imperious in midfield, whipped in a beautiful cross on to the head of Romain Del Castillo who nodded home. Areola with no chance.

The game climaxed with Jeremy Morel clipping the inside of the post, and Mbappe and Draxler coming close but to no avail. Rennes rose to the top of the table and since have beaten Strasbourg to go to the top of the league. PSG now sit in third.

If anyone has the chance to visit Rennes and Roazhon Park, I highly recommend doing so. Friendly locals, a cracking atmosphere and a very watchable style of football.

Allez les Rouges, Ce fut un plaisir. Merci beaucoup.


About Author

Sports Journalism student, streamer at LFC Transfer Room, Anfield Agenda. Liverpool fan with a particular interest in Welsh, Youth, and African football.

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