Santamaria explains Rennes’ resurgence and compliments Milan’s danger men

By Oliver Fisher -

Stade Rennais midfielder Baptiste Santamaria has shed some light on his side’s recent resurgence in form, as well as speaking about their opponents tonight AC Milan.

Milan will have to be wary of Rennes, not only because of the various talents that feed the attacking department but also the midfield, where Santamaria reigns as the metronome of the Breton club.

He very much dictates the rhythm and build-up because he is precise in his passes, tough in his duels and always attentive to the tactical approach that head coach Julien Stephan has adopted.

In short, it is no coincidence that Rennes continue to grind out points, with a string of nine games in a row including eight consecutive victories, the most recent on Sunday against Le Havre where Santamaria was the best on the pitch according to L’Equipe.

The 28-year-old has been linked with Milan before, and he gave an interview to La Gazzetta dello Sport about why the Rouge et Noir have been so good recently.

How are Rennes doing at the moment?

“We are going through a positive period and this also generates positivity to better prepare for the following match. Now it’s Milan who we face with humility, because they are a great team, but also with ambition, because I think we have good arguments to make. Like my teammates, I feel ready.”

What is the goal for you?

“We know well that Milan play in the Europa League having come from the Champions League and that they are going through a positive period, after the victory against Napoli. There is never an ideal time for games like this, but they are games that we want to play and win. So we must not give up our ambition.”

How do Rennes play?

“We have a complete style of play, we are disciplined, a team that loves to keep the ball, but also hit in transition.”

What does coach Stephan, who took over from Genesio in the autumn, ask of you?

“I am asked first of all to be complementary to my team-mates and to support the attacking build-up as much as possible, without neglecting the covering phase.”

Your team-mate Enzo Le Fée will be missing due to injury, but in this Rennes there are other solutions…

“It will be a game of strength and we will have to give our best in tackles, duels and game combinations to destabilise the opponents.”

There is no shortage of talent in attack as well…

“In fact, we have a team that brings together young people and players with more experience, in every department. Up front, if I were Milan, I would pay particular attention to Martin Terrier, a dangerous attacker.”

You are one of the leaders of this team, but who inspired you in your career?

“I liked Thiago Motta a lot, but also De Rossi and Gerrard for their defensive profile. Today I watch football more generally, without references to individuals, to study the evolution of the game.”

At Tours you were coached by ex-Milan man Marco Simone. What advice did he give you?

“It was a great time. At the time there were no players on the right wing of the attack, so Simone asked me to move to that sector. It was a hybrid season, I was often up front and thanks to his advice I actually scored six goals, with five assists, which isn’t bad for a midfielder. Simone gave me a certain idea of ​​versatility.”

How do you rate Milan’s midfield?

“It is a very complementary department, with different profiles. We will need to pay attention to the power of Loftus-Cheek. We know Adli because he played in Bordeaux, and also Bennacer, a technical player, who also played for Tours, like me and Giroud.”

Are Giroud and Leao the most dangerous?

“We are all a bit of the Tours gang, in fact. Giroud we all know how dangerous he can be. As with Leao, who among other things has improved a lot since his time at Lille, Olivier also only needs half an opportunity to strike and score.”

Do you follow Serie A?

“It’s a championship that I like because I really appreciate tactics and Serie A sets the example in this field.”

You have often been talked about during the last two markets and Napoli have been linked to you. Would it interest you to play in Italy?

“It’s certainly nice that people are talking about me, because it values ​​my work and the fact that it’s always growing, and also because these are big clubs. For the future in Serie A, why not: we’ll see how things go.”


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