Cup objective for Monaco
By A. Scott
AS Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim has set his side the objective of getting to at least one cup final this season as they prepare to take on second-tier FC Sochaux-Montbéliard in the Coupe de la Ligue quarter-finals on Tuesday.
FC Sochaux-Montbéliard - AS Monaco
Monaco are still alive on four fronts ahead of their trip to the Stade Bonal, having secured their progress to the round of 32 of the Coupe de France on Friday with a 2-1 win at home to AC Ajaccio. Valère Germain got what proved to be the winning goal at the Stade Louis II and Monaco will go to either Lunéville FC of the fourth tier or Chambly of the third division in the next round of that competition.
Currently second in Ligue 1 at the season's halfway stage, just two points behind leaders and local rivals OGC Nice, Monaco are looking to claim a first piece of silverware this season since winning the Coupe de la Ligue in 2003. On that occasion, they beat Sochaux 4-1 in the final at the Stade de France with Ludovic Giuly scoring twice.
"The important thing is to still be in all four competitions. The objective is to get to a cup final this season," said Jardim after the Coupe de France win as he signalled that several changes will be made to his line-up in Sochaux.
"Four or five players who didn't start against Ajaccio will come in. (Danijel) Subasic, (Kamil) Glik and (Andrea) Raggi will play again and (Thomas) Lemar and Germain will be there and we will go to Sochaux looking to win the tie."
That is not what happened when Monaco went to the Stade Bonal in the Coupe de France last season and suffered a shock 2-1 defeat in the round of 16 at the hands of Les Lionceaux.
"Sochaux was my first match but it is not a good memory because we lost. I hope this time will be different. It is going to be very cold, so we will need to adapt and be fully focused on the job in hand," said Brazilian defender Jemerson.
Sochaux have been rolling back the years in this season's Coupe de la Ligue as well, claiming the scalps of two top-flight sides to reach this stage. They won 5-4 on penalties at Dijon FCO after a 1-1 draw and then eliminated Olympique de Marseille in the round of 16 last month, triumphing 4-3 in a shoot-out after an entertaining 1-1 draw.
Albert Cartier's men have won three of their four ties in the competition this season on penalties, and that is something of a speciality of theirs in the Coupe de la Ligue - when they won the trophy in 2004 they defeated FC Nantes in a shoot-out in the final.
"We are going to need to put in a great performance to stand any chance. Monaco are solid defensively and that allows them to get forward quickly and be liberated when they do attack," said Cartier, whose side have been away at a training camp in Provence having not played since beating Red Star 2-0 on December 16.
Fifth in Ligue 2 as they chase a return to the top flight, they are without skipper Adolphe Teikeu, the centre-back having been called up to the Cameroon squad for the Africa Cup of Nations. Christopher Dilo should again get the nod in goal after his heroics in the shoot-out against Marseille.
Monaco, 7-0 winners at home to Stade Rennais FC in the last round, have lost Nabil Dirar (Moroco) and Adama Traoré (Mali) to the Africa Cup of Nations while Tiémoué Bakayoko is nursing a calf knock and Lemar is hoping to return. Jardim has said they will be back in time for Sunday's trip to Marseille even if they miss this tie.
FC Sochaux-Montbéliard: Dilo; Pendant, Ogier, Gibaud, M. Alphonse; Ramaré (c), Bérenguer, Ilaimaharitra, Honorat; Andriatsima, Sao
AS Monaco FC: Subasic; Alm. Touré, Glik, Jermerson, Raggi (c); Fabinho, Moutinho, Jean, Lemar; Carrillo, Germain