Racing: Zebo, Thomas, Vakatawa, Klemenczak, Imhoff, Russell, Iribaren ©, Ben Arous, Chat, Colombe, Bird, Ryan, Lauret, Sanconnie. Claassen.
Saracens: Daly; Lewington, Taylor, Barritt ©, Maitland; Goode, Wigglesworth; M Vunipola, George, Koch; Itoje, Swinson; Rhodes, Wray, B Vunipola.
Saracens have a great chance to end a torrid season, aiming to win their fourth Champions Cup in five seasons.
Having had an initial 35-point deduction for breaching their wage cap back in November, it was raised to 77 points in January. Because of this, Saracens will be playing their rugby in the Championship next season, something which many of their players will most certainly not be around for.
Several players, including England internationals Ben Earl and George Kruis, have already left the club, with rumours that more will join after this European adventure ends. Saracens full-back Elliot Daly highlighted the expected exodus in the build up to the game.
He said: “It’s all eyes on this competition for us this year. There are some huge boys in that changing room who won’t be Sarries next year, so we are doing it for them at the moment. We have hopefully two more games.”
The stakes, therefore, are very high for Saracens who will be desperate to leave European rugby on a high. It has already been confirmed by organisers that even if Saracens do win the trophy, it will not automatically qualify them for the competition next year, as it normally would.
Saracens and Racing did actually meet each other in the pool stages of this competition, with Saracens winning their home game 27-24. Racing did beat a very-weakened Saracens side 30-10 in the reverse fixture.
Since then, Saracens played out a great game against Irish giants Leinster and progressed to the semis with a 25-17 win. Whilst Racing had an all-French affair vs Clermont, progressing as 36-27 winners.
Saracens are still without key-man Owen Farrell at fly-half; he is still suspended following a horror tackle on Wasps’ Charlie Atkinson a few weeks ago. Long-time servants Mako Vunipola and Richard Wigglesworth both remain in the starting line-up after regaining match fitness against Leinster.
As for Racing, recently signed Australian international Kurtley Beal won’t be available just yet after he picked up a ban in domestic action. They do have some big names in their team though, Simon Zebo is a former Ireland international and 6-nations winner.
Former France scrum-half Maxime Machenaud will line up alongside Scottish international Finn Russel in the half-back positions. Racing finished 4th in the very competitive Top 14 last year, and will certainly be good competition for a potentially desperate Saracens side.