Explained: How Rennes’ winter break means Tottenham’s European challenge is hanging by a thread

Due to the hectic Christmas Premier League schedule and the French winter break, Tottenham could struggle to rearrange their match against Rennes.

<p>Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane. Pic: Getty</p>

Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane. Pic: Getty

Rennes have finally reluctantly agreed that their game against Tottenham Hotspur will not go ahead tonight due to the spike in Covid-19 cases at the club.

The French side, who are riding high domestically and in Europe, will return to Brittany after arriving in London on Wednesday to honour the final game of group G against the Spurs.

Rennes are second in Ligue 1, and are leading Tottenham in group G by four points, which means the outcome of this game would have no bearing on who wins the group.

Tottenham though need a win to guarantee qualification as Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem also have seven points and a win against minnows Mura will see them overtake the English side.

The Health Security Agency and UEFA both agreed the game should be postponed, but this will be tricky with UEFA’s deadline of December 31 to complete all group games.

Rennes’ French midfielder Lesley Ugochkwu reacts during the French L1 football match between AS Saint-Etienne Photo by OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE/AFP via Getty Images)

Rennes’ winter break

The French league, unlike the Premier League, has a strict winter break policy that allows players to spend Christmas and New Year with their family.

This year, December 22 is the last round of games in France and the league will only resume on the weekend of January 8 and 9.

This means Rennes would be unlikely to be willing to play the match after December 22, which is less than two weeks away.

Finding a slot for the match gets even trickier as due to UEFA rules, all group games must be concluded before December 31.

How UEFA negotiates this will be intriguing, with Rennes already turning attention to their weekend game against OGC Nice and Tottenham still faintly hoping to play against Brighton.

Eric Dier of Tottenham Hotspur applauds the fans following defeat after the Premier League match (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Tottenham’s congested Christmas fixtures

So if UEFA is to arrange a new date for the game before Rennes go on their winter break on December 22, this is what Tottenham’s fixtures list looks like.

  • 12/12/21 Brighton Hove and Albion v Tottenham
  • 16/12/21 Leicester City v Tottenham 
  • 19/12/21 Tottenham v Liverpool
  • 22/12/21 Tottenham v West Ham (League Cup)

Also the Premier League is still looking for a window of opportunity to fix the outstanding game between Tottenham and Burnley, which was also postponed due to heavy snow last week.

The fixture list moves from a pile to a gridlock when you add the Rennes game with the tight time frames involved.

Rennes’ fixtures list

  • 12/12/21 Rennes v Nice
  • 18/12/21 Rennes v Lorient
  • 22/12/21 Monaco v Rennes
  • 23/12/21 French winter break

It is worth noting that Rennes are second in Ligue 1 and will want to keep the title challenge up.

They will feel that the game against Tottenham will have no significant effect on their campaign, as they are already four points ahead of Spurs in the group.

Reserving energy and keeping momentum will be high on their list.

Antonio Conte, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur acknowledges the fans (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

How will UEFA resolve this issue?

Both teams will have to make a compromise, whether it’s Rennes cutting short their winter break to honour the game or Tottenham taking the hit and a fine to forfeit the match and crash out of Europe.