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Cup solace for struggling Guingamp and Monaco?

Publish on 28/01/2019 at 00:00 - S. WILLIS

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Ligue 1 Conforama's bottom two meet on Tuesday evening with a place in the Coupe de la Ligue BKT final at stake for Guingamp and Monaco.

EA Guingamp - AS Monaco

These are tumultuous times at both clubs, especially at 19th-placed Monaco who have reappointed Leonardo Jardim as coach just over three months after he was dismissed and replaced by Thierry Henry. Jardim got a further idea as to the size of his task of keeping the Principality club in the top division when he watched from the stands as Monaco fell 2-0 at Dijon on Saturday under the temporary command of Franck Passi.

Jardim famously led Monaco to the 2017 Ligue 1 Conforama title but his task now is one of short-term urgency. The Portuguese left in October because he felt unable to carry Monaco into the top three in the league and the challenge now is to ensure the club finish outside of the bottom three. In the best case scenario, Jardim will achieve that and qualify Monaco for European football by winning the Coupe de la Ligue BKT, a competition they've reached the final of in each of the last two seasons, losing on both occasions to Paris Saint-Germain.

Guingamp conquered PSG 2-1 at the Parc des Princes at the start of the month so at least Monaco know they won't have French football's behemoth in their way should they reach the final in Lille, to take place on Saturday March 30.

Falcao: "We're giving everything but it's not enough"

Monaco have failed to win a game since beating Rennes on penalties in the quarter-finals and suffered a damaging 2-0 home reverse to Guingamp in the league just before Christmas. Captain Radamel Falcao - suspeded along with Naldo for the trip to Brittany - is well aware of the magnitude of the challenge facing his team: "We're giving everything but it's not enough. Each player needs to try to give a bt more and we need to play together. We're all in the same boat. We need to think about the next match as the Coupe de la Ligue is important. With Thierry Henry, we didn't manage to turn the situation around and now we need to keep going, trying to improve the spirit, and we need to fight together."

Jardim's motivational ability will be tested to the max as he takes over a squad short of confidence, while the new signings are struggling to bed in. Veteran Brazilian defender Naldo was sent off for the second time in his brief Ligue 1 Conforama career to date at Dijon on Saturday.

Guingamp are the only club below Monaco in the league table and they also had a man sent off at the weekend as Papy Djilobodji got his marching orders in the 1-0 home loss to Reims. Staying up is obviously the priority for both clubs, although a Cup final would go a long way to lifting morale in the camp. Guingamp - Coupe de France champions in 2009 and 2014 - are in the Coupe de la Ligue BKT semi-finals for only the second time, having fallen 2-1 to a Robert Pirès-inspired Metz in 1996.

In the 2014 Coupe de France semis Guingamp were home winners against Monaco, 3-1 after extra-time, and Jocelyn Gourvennec's men would obviously love a repeat result on Tuesday. For that to happen, the Breton club will have to play rather better than they did against Reims. Post-match, Gourvennec conceded: "We didn't play well although we were attentive in our set-up in order to not allow them space. We didn't give much away but when we did there were consequences as they opened the scoring against the run of play."

Probable Teams:

Guingamp: Johnsson; Traoré, Kerbrat, Eboa Eboa, Rebocho; Coco, Ndong, Didot, Thuram; Rodelin, Mendy

Monaco: Subasic; Sidibé, Glik, Badiashile, Ballo-Touré; Vainqueur, Fabregas; Gelson Martins, Lopes, Golovin; Sylla