Sky Live Champions Cup preview: Clermont v Racing 92
By Graeme Peacock
Last Updated: 01/04/18 3:50pm
The two previous runners-up of the European Rugby Champions Cup meet at the Stade Marcel-Michelin on Sunday in an all French affair to qualify for the last four, live on Sky Sports Action.
It has been a Jekyll and Hyde season for Clermont. While struggling in the Top 14 this season, they topped their pool in Europe that included last year's champions Saracens, earning them a home time tie.
Their opponents, Racing 92, are currently second in their domestic league and will be hoping to extend this form into this clash.
The contest will be the fifth meeting in European competition between the rival Top 14 clubs. The previous four matches have all been won by the home side.
Sky Sports Rugby previews Saturday's fixture...
Clermont have a bench that is packed with experience and quality with Wesley Fofana, Camille Lopez and Greig Laidlaw all forced to sit this one out. They were absolutely smashed by Toulon in their last Top 14 encounter but many predict a spirited response here.
In what will be Clermont's ninth quarter-final appearance, Patricio Fernandez will start alongside Morgan Parra at half-back with Remi Lamerat and Damian Penaud at centre.
In the back three, Remy Grosso and Peter Betham start on the wings with Nick Abendanon named at full-back.
Racing 92: LWLWW
Currently placed second in the French Top 14, Racing 92 have made two changes to their backline from last weekend's win over Lyon as Henry Chavancy and Marc Andreu enter for Anthony Tuitavake and Juan Imhoff.
In the pack, Ben Tameifuna is selected over Census Johnston at tight-head while Leone Nakarawa will join Donnacha Ryan at lock and Wenceslas Lauret and Yannick Nyanga come into the back-row alongside Bernard le Roux.
Most recent outing
Toulon 49-0 Clermont
Despite a return of three successive wins in March and welcoming back scrum-half Parra (out since January) and fly-half Lopez (injured in October), Clermont were ripped to shreds by the three-time European champions.
Clermont were outplayed from the outset and suffered their 12th loss of the Top 14 season.
The home side ran in seven tries to score a seismic win and one of the week's big talking points.
Lyon 22-24 Racing 92
Tries from Baptiste Chouzenoux and Patrick Lambie and the trusty boot of Maxime Machenaud edged Racing clear of a Lyon side led by the influential Lionel Beauxis.
Racing 92 58-6 Clermont, Top 14 - January 2018
The hosts set down an early marker with tries from Nakarawa and Vakatawa giving Racing an early 14-0 lead. A placekicking battle between Machenaud and Lavernhe ensued which led to a 20-6 scoreline at the interval.
Racing flew out of the blocks in the second half and tries from Chat, Szarzewski, Teddy Thomas, Lauret, Vakatawa (his second of the game) and Chavancy secured a blow out win for the Parisians.
It is the clash of the number 9s as a current France internationals go head to head in what will be a key match-up.
Clermont- Morgan Parra
The 29-year-old has been around for what seems like an eternity but the little general remains the beating heart in this Clermont side. His accuracy from the tee will be crucial and his management is up there with the best.
Parra's combination with No 8 Fritz Lee from the base of the scrum could prove telling in this clash.
Racing 92 - Maxime Machenaud
The Racing scrum-half is a special player and one of the most influential in Europe at present. His kicking both from hand and for goal is a massive positive for Racing.
Machenaud's accuracy and leadership will be key and he has the ability to bring dangerous players like Thomas and Vakatawa into the game. Expect another typically influential performance from the captain.
Clermont: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Damian Penaud, 12 Rémi Lamerat, 11 Remi Grosso, 10 Pato Fernandez, 9 Morgan Parra, 1 Etienne Falgoux, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 3 Rabah Slimani, 4 Arthur Iturria, 5 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 6 Peceli Yato, 7 Alexandre Lapandry, 8 Fritz Lee
Replacements: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Loni Uhila, 18 Davit Zirakashvili, 19 Sitaleki Timani, 20 Damien Chouly, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Camille Lopez, 23 Wesley Fofana
Racing 92: 15 Louis Dupichot, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Henry Chavancy, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 1 Eddy Ben Arous, 2 Camille Chat, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 7 Bernard Le Roux, 8 Yannick Nyanga
Replacements: 16 Ole Avei, 17 Vasil Kakovin, 18 Cedate Gomes Sa, 19 Boris Palu, 20 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 21 Dan Carter, 22 Xavier Chauveau, 23 Joe Rokocoko
Watch Clermont v Racing 92 live on Sky Sports Action from 12.30pm on Sunday