Monaco go in search of a first away Ligue 1 Conforama win of the season when they head to Nantes on Friday evening.
FC Nantes - AS Monaco
It will be a tough task for Leonardo Jardim's side as Nantes are unbeaten at home this season, scoring four 1-0 wins and drawing the other game 0-0. Still, Monaco are entitled to have high hopes of breaching the Beaujoire fortress as Wissam Ben Yedder, Ligue 1 Conforama top scorer with eight goals, and Islam Slimani, the top assists provider with seven, are in such magnificent form.
Monaco have taken only two points from four away matches to date, scoring a meagre three goals and conceding eight times. Despite being 14th in the table, Monaco are only five points off the top three and their Portuguese coach feels they have turned the corner.
"The team is stronger than in August"
Jardim said: "I get the impression the team is stronger than in August for various reasons. We made a lot of changes in the close season and the players are working together. Everybody is available too and those are important factors. It remains theoretical though and we need to show it on the pitch. We want to prove ourselves against a quality team that stands second in the table. We want to change things on the road and get an away win."
There have been a mere 15 goals in Nantes games this campaign as Christian Gourcuff has made Les Canaris specialists at edging games and keeping clean sheets. Monaco matches, by way of contrast, have averaged 3.9 goals per game, the highest total in the division.
Jardim conceded: "Collectively, we are better in attack than in defence. If we are stronger going forward it is because everyone gets involved in the attack. Defensively, we are always trying to progress in order to be more rigorous from a collective viewpoint. We conceded from a free-kick against Rennes and from a corner in our previous game at Montpellier. We need to be more rigorous in order to concede fewer goals."
Gourcuff: "Monaco are not in their rightful place"
Gourcuff, whose side fell 1-0 at Metz last weekend, is expecting a tough match. The veteran coach said: "When you look at the players they have in their team, Monaco are not in their rightful place in the table. We know that they'll soon rise up the table in order to reach a position more in step with the quality they have. There is quality everywhere. Ben Yedder - Slimani is functioning magnificently. Golovin, Fabregas and Bakayoko are strong by Ligue 1 standards."
Nantes' unstinting efforts have been the key to their success this season and Gourcuff added: "I reason collectively. To be competitive, you need to be solid collectively, no matter the individuals involved. We need to work as a team to win the ball back, find fluency in our play and put pace into our play with the ball, something we didn't manage against Metz."
Nantes: (to follow)
Monaco: (to follow)