Jardim warning for Monaco ahead of Dijon test
By I. Holyman
AS Monaco will seek to see off Dijon FCO in Friday's Week 26 curtain-raiser to cement their hold on second place, but coach Leonardo Jardim has warned his side to expect a testing 90 minutes.
AS Monaco - Dijon FCO
The reigning Ligue 1 Conforama champions have taken a point from a trip to Marseille and dramatically beaten Olympique Lyonnais in recent weeks to steal a march on their rivals for second place behind runaway leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
On paper, Dijon — six points above the bottom three ahead of kick-off — look likely to present little problem to the principality outfit, but after seeing his team toil against the Burgundy outfit at the Stade Louis II last season before eventually taking the points through a late Radamel Falcao goal, Jardim is cautious.
"Everyone remembers last season's game very well. It was a difficult game. It won't be easy again," the Portuguese boss explained. "They're always difficult. Teams always have objectives, either they are going to Europe or trying to get away from the bottom places. It makes no game easy, and you're never sure to pick up the three points."
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Monaco will again be without Falcao, but Stevan Jovetic stepped in last weekend to claim two goals in the commanding 4-0 win at Angers, and will have Keita Baldé for support as the Senegal international returns after suspension.
The summer arrival from Lazio was dismissed after scoring against Lyon in a game where Monaco came from behind to claim all three points against the odds thanks to Rony Lopes' late goal.
Tielemans: 'Lyon win was a boost'
It helped them move a point clear of Marseille in third while OL's faltering in recent weeks has seen them slip five points behind Jardim's men with their defeat on the Côte d'Azur as damaging to them as it was a boost for Monaco.
"The match against Lyon did us a lot of good mentally, to come from behind and win against a very good opponent and direct rival did us good mentally and physically," explained Monaco midfielder Youri Tielemans. "It gave us confidence. You could see that against Angers, that we were in good shape and very focussed. We have to continue like that, and keep winning with style."
Jardim will also have first-choice goalkeeper Danijel Subasic back from injury as they host Ligue 1 Conforama's worst travellers. Dijon have won their last two league games, but both of those were at home, while they have picked up just five points away from home this season, winning only once.
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"Given our away form, every point we get away will be a victory for us," admitted boss Olivier Dall'Oglio, who will be without injured trio Xeka, Jordan Marié and Frédéric Sammaritano. "We'll go there first of all to defend well and to keep the ball well. We might have chances, we have them in almost every game. We just need a little luck."
"We need to be solid and 100 per cent focussed, because the smallest detail will decide it. Set-pieces, for example, because we know it's one of their strong points," added Oussama Haddadi, part of the Dijon line-up that saw Falcao score a hat-trick in a 4-1 Monaco win in Week 2.
"We saw that in the first game, they hurt us. We know they do well in that area, we'll have to be very careful. But we're also going to play our football. If we are having a good day, we can shine in Monaco. We have to try and scrape some points away from home."
Monaco: Subasic; D.Sidibé, Glik, Jemerson, Raggi (cap.); Fabinho, Tielemans; Lopes, Lemar, Baldé; Jovetic
Dijon: Reynet (cap.); Chafik, Yambéré, Djilobodji, Rosier; Balmont, Abeid, Amalfitano; Kwon, Tavares, Sliti