Saint-Etienne dismiss final favourites tag

19 April 2013 05:47

Saint-Etienne coach Christophe Galtier has dismissed suggestions that his team should be considered as favourites to win Saturday's French League Cup final against Rennes at the Stade de France.

The form book suggests Les Verts are the favourites to win the club's first national final in 31 years, even if their unbeaten start to 2013 was finally ended in Tuesday's French Cup quarter-final defeat to Lorient.

Rennes have not won any of their last eight games and coach Frederic Antonetti this week described his team as 'losers'.

However, his opposite number Galtier on Friday sought to take the pressure away from his talented young team, who are looking to win the club's first trophy since they became champions for the 10th time in 1981.

"I notice that we are favourites, but that is not because of us," he said, recalling the great successes enjoyed by Saint-Etienne in the 1960s and 1970s.

"Rather, it is down to past teams, the generations who made the people of France laugh and cry. I hope we can prove ourselves to be the worthy successors of that generation."

"Rennes have more experience than us, so I don't think we are favourites.

"In the last 10 years, Saint-Etienne have never finished above Rennes in the league table."

Antonetti's description of his own team will have unsettled many connected with the Brittany side, who have not won a major trophy since lifting the French Cup in 1971 and come into the final on a run of eight games without a win.

Since being bought out by the Pinault family -- whose business empire wealth was estimated last year by the magazine Challenges to reach some 6.3 billion euros ($8.2billion, 5.4 million pounds) -- in 1998, Rennes have finished fourth in Ligue 1 on two occasions but have yet to break into the Champions League and lost 2-1 to Ligue 2 side Guingamp in the 2009 French Cup final.

"Saint-Etienne are the clear favourites," Antonetti said.

"I used the word 'losers' because 'outsiders' wasn't strong enough.

"Les Verts have had quite an exceptional record since January, and we have struggled for two months.

"They have the confidence and an aura about them because most of France wants them to win.

"They are a legendary club and have a place in the heart of everyone in France," added Antonetti, who coached Saint-Etienne between 2001 and 2004, when they languished in the second tier.

Source: AFP