On their sofa, Rennes saw a direct ticket for the Champions League group stage fall from the sky on Tuesday evening, a historic first for the Breton club which will have to strengthen itself to try to look good.
The planets lined up perfectly for the Bretons, 3rd in Ligue 1, who theoretically had to pass two uncertain preliminary rounds in September.
But according to UEFA regulations, the French club could be exempted from these confrontations uncertain by recovering the place reserved for the winner of the Europa League if the latter had already qualified.
However, the four clubs still in contention in C3 – Inter Milan and Manchester United qualified on Monday evening, Sevilla and Shakhtar Donetsk qualified Tuesday evening – have already obtained their ticket in their national championship.
These four regulars of the final stages of European cups are therefore the delight of the Bretons, who will play from October 20 the prestigious and lucrative group stage of the C1, alongside Paris SG, Marseille, and possibly Lyon in case of improbable victory of the “Gones” in the final of the Champions League, at the end of August.
“Ligue des Champions! “, Launched on social networks Eduardo Camavinga, the nugget of 17 years that the press says actively courted by Real Madrid. “Here we are guys! », Jubilated Rennes midfielder Benjamin Bourigeaud, evoking a« childhood dream ».
The club for its part released a video showing a DJ launching the famous hymn of the competition at Roazhon Park, the Rennes stadium.  “We are proud because we are going to live a historic and privileged moment (…) We are going to discover all this with an enormous desire to bite into it, to make the most of it”, reacted the Rennes coach, Julien Stéphan, in a press release released the evening by the club.
“This issue should not be considered as qualifying at a discount. The players deserved it throughout the season “, he insisted.
But at the time of discovering the elite of European football, Rennes has so far only presented a mixed record on the continental scene.
His first two forays in 1969 and 1971, the years of his first French Cups, were marked by two eliminations in the 1st round in the Coupe des Coupes.
– Lots of flops –
A quarter of a century later, return to European fields with the Intertoto Cup (1996, 1999 and 2001): several inglorious eliminations but also a final lost against Juventus Turin in the spring of 2000.
Same duality in the Coupe de l 'UEFA / Europa League, where Rennes certainly reached the round of 16 in 2018-2019 by stumbling over Arsenal after eliminating Betis Sevilla, but where the Rouge et Noir finished dead last in their group in 2005, 2008, in 2012… and last fall.
However, the club has changed dimension. His triumvirate made up of Nicolas Holveck, new president, Florian Maurice, new debauched technical director of Olympique Lyonnais, and Julien Stéphan, the favorite coach, is now showing his ambitions.
If it is likely to attract big names in Brittany, the guarantee of six Champions League matches in the fall could first help the club to keep its best elements , starting with Camavinga, which was shaping up to be a possible record transfer this summer but that the Rennes leaders do not seem ready to let go this summer.
While the world champion Steven Nzonzi, who arrived in January, seems to take always more self-confident, his association with the young prodigy is particularly promising in the midfield.
In other sectors, the end of the OM soap opera for Mbaye Niang and the arrival of Martin Terrier have already begun to reinforce the attack, while the defense remains under construction.
At the end of June, Nicolas Holveck had promised “an ambitious recruitment”. He now has the means and the obligation.
fcc / jed / dlo
© Agence France-Presse