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St Etienne v Stade Rennes: Preview

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Rennes coach Philippe Montanier has warned his defence they will have to do much better at St Etienne on Sunday against a team he believes could be fighting it out for the Ligue 1 title come the end of the season.

ASSE have won their opening two fixtures of the campaign - against Guingamp and Reims - and join Bordeaux as the only sides in the competition with 100 per cent records.

Rennes recovered from their opening-day defeat at Lyon with a 6-2 thrashing of Evian last weekend, but Montanier is keen to cut out the defensive lapses which blighted both performances.

``St Etienne are a particularly attacking team on home soil,'' he told Rennes' official website. ``It is one of the biggest fixtures in the league and obviously we expect a tough game.

``They will be hard to beat and are among the contenders (for the title).

``We have conceded four goals so far and I'm not going to accept that. It is necessary that we are able to defend all together as a unit.''

St Etienne were distracted from their impressive start to Ligue 1 by a midweek defeat to Turkish side Karabukspor in the opening leg of the Europa League play-offs.

Yet coach Christophe Galtier does not think his players should be too disappointed with the result.

``We won't freak out about this defeat. We will keep a cool head, although it is clear we have to do better,'' he told Les Echos.

``But we don't have this kind of match in our league, or very few anyway. I told the players that no matter who the opponent is, there is not a Ligue 1 match that resembles the Europa League. This was a tough match but not something we should fret over.''

Rennes will make the trip to St Etienne without injured duo Andre Benjamin (thigh) and Axel Ngando (ankle).

ends

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