Round of 32
Four years after its return to the top flight, and a few weeks after unexpectedly staving off relegation, Stade Rennais FC changed course with François Pinault buying the club. The club started to show that its ambitions were not just surviving in the league, and hired Le Guen as First Team Manager to lead this project. Rennes strengthened the squad across the board (Revault, Arribagé, Sommeil, Cissé, Bardon, Nonda), and made a reasonable start to the season with 11 points from 7 matches. Thanks to a rock-solid defence, and a top-class Nonda, the Red and Blacks were 3rd at the halfway point of the season (28 points) ahead of Monaco, Lyon, Nantes and Paris, certainly a first for the club. Despite being dumped rather unceremoniously out of the cups by Le Mans and Lens respectively, Stade Rennais strung together five wins in the spring, including a prestigious 2-1 success at Lyon to be within a point of the top three with three games to play. Unfortunately, the surge in form of Monaco, and two defeats for Rennes meant that they finished 5th in the league with 59 points. A successful season, but its “only” reward was the qualification for the Intertoto Cup.