Monaco reunion for Ranieri in Nantes

Ligue 1 Conforama > News

By I. Holyman

Claudio Ranieri faces former club AS Monaco on Wednesday seeking to refind his magic touch to get his FC Nantes side out of a slump.

 FC Nantes - AS Monaco  


After losing his first two league games following his return to French football this summer, Ranieri engineered an eight-game unbeaten run that lifted his team to within touching distance of the top three.

Nantes head into Week 15 in fifth place, but a run of three defeats in four league games means there is now a five-point gap between themselves and fourth-placed Olympique de Marseille.

Wahbi Khazri's second of the game two minutes from time saw Stade Rennais FC inflict a 2-1 defeat on their Breton rivals, and Ranieri called on his players to get the sharp focus on the task in hand that they had earlier in the campaign.

WATCH: Rennes see off Nantes

"We have to concentrate more, which was our strength," said the former Leicester City boss, who saw his team beaten 4-1 at Paris Saint-Germain the previous week.

"In Paris and at Rennes, we conceded goals on the counter-attack, like a boxer who is counter-punched. That means that we attack, but we have to be better in our anticipation, our positioning. In Rennes, we made gave away too many balls from the back or lost the ball too quickly. Everyone should play to their strengths, not try to do something different."

Ranieri has certainly not done that since his time at Monaco, following on happily from the success he enjoyed at the Stade Louis II. After joining the club when they were struggling at the foot of the Domino's Ligue 2 table, Ranieri steered them to promotion and then took them to a runners-up finish behind PSG the following season before Leonardo Jardim stepped in.

'Monaco are rebuilding'

"I have great memories from my time there. We were Ligue 2 champions, then runners-up in Ligue 1. I often came to see Champions League games there last season. They are in the middle of a project that hasn't changed," said Ranieri, who had sympathy for his successor, beaten 2-1 by PSG in Sunday's top-of-the-table clash.

"We know it's very difficult against Paris. They're a team that is rebuilding after selling a lot of players. But I'm convinced they'll battle for second place with Lyon and Marseille."

Retaining their title does now look a huge challenge for Monaco, who are nine points adrift of the league leaders. They even lost their hold on second place in the table due to Lyon's superior goal difference, and the seven-time French champions and Marseille, just a point behind, promise - as Ranieri said - to push Monaco for one of France's two automatic UEFA Champions League group stage qualifying spots.

WATCH: Monaco are beaten by PSG

"I don't think that we can say Monaco have lost the title. Sure, we're the reigning champions, but the title isn't our objective. We're staying true to our project. In France, there is only one club that can claim the title as their objective (PSG). I'm not happy. We can do more. But credit must go to our opponents, who controlled the game with their individual talent," said Jardim after Sunday's loss.

"We lost a lot of challenges, but we lost them to high-quality players. We have to work physically, mentally and tactically but we also have to work on our character. The big message from tonight: you can always do more. But you also have to admit that the opposition had more quality and that won them the match."

Probable teams

Nantes: Tatarusanu; Dubois (c), Awaziem, Diego Carlos, Djidji; Touré, Girotto; Iloki, Rongier, Thomasson; Sala

Monaco: Subasic; Sidibé, Glik, Jemerson, Jorge; N'Doram, Fabinho; Ghezzal, Moutinho, Lopes; Falcao (c)

>> PRE-MATCH STATS: Nantes vs. Monaco

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