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Lopes calls for Monaco focus ahead of Rennes test

Publish on 04/04/2018 at 00:00 - S. WILLIS

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Rony Lopes has told his AS Monaco team-mates to shrug off their Coupe de la Ligue final disappointment and focus on keeping hold of second place when they head to in-form Stade Rennais FC on Wednesday.

 Stade Rennais FC - AS Monaco 

Monaco were beaten 3-0 by Paris Saint-Germain in Saturday's showpiece in Bordeaux, the second successive year the principality club have succumbed to the capital club in the final.

Last season, Leonardo Jardim's men had the significant consolation of the Ligue 1 Conforama title, but are set to lose their crown to PSG, leaving them with runners-up spot as the best they can muster from the 2017/18 campaign.

With that position will come a guarantee of UEFA Champions League group stage football next season, and Monaco are in pole position to claim it. Olympique de Marseille, however, closed to within four points of Lopes & Co. thanks to Saturday's 3-1 win at Dijon FCO, and the Portuguese midfielder recognises the need to re-focus energy on the league.

"We have to forget the final. We were disappointed after the game, but in the dressing-room, we all got ourselves focussed on the next game," the former Manchester City midfielder, who has scored six times in his last five league outings. "Rennes are playing for Europe, but we are going there to keep hold of second place."

The 22-year-old insisted the re-scheduling of Monaco's Week 31 game to a midweek slot just four days after the final was a blessing.

"For me, it's good to have this midweek game," the ex-Lille man said. "It means that we don't think about the loss to Paris the whole week."

Faith

Monaco will be without the injured Keita Baldé and Joao Moutinho as they seek to extend their 15-game unbeaten run in Brittany. Not that the hosts will be generous with their own ambitions in peril.

Rennes saw themselves overtaken by Montpellier Hérault SC, who claimed fifth place thanks to their weekend win at Caen, and the pair joined on 45 points by OGC Nice, who won at Troyes.

With Breton rivals FC Nantes just a point behind, and hard-charging AS Saint-Etienne just a further two points back, Sabri Lamouchi wants his full-strength team, who are unbeaten in six league outings, to have faith in themselves.

"The main thing is to be convinced that we deserve to be where we are," the former Monaco midfielder, who won the Ligue 1 Conforama title as a player in the principality in 1999/00, explained.

"We have to do everything to stay there. To do that, we have redouble our efforts and sacrifices. The individual players are at the service of the whole group, but the team has to show more control in certain situations.

"We saw at Bordeaux that we gave the ball away too much. Against Saint-Etienne, we gave them too many chances. We can't afford to be self-satisfied."

Probable teams

Rennes: Koubek – Danzé (cap.), Gélin, Gnagnon, Bensebaini – B.André, Prcic – Bourigeaud, Khazri, I.Sarr – D.Sakho

Monaco: Subasic – D.Sidibé, Glik, Jemerson, Raggi – Tielemans, Fabinho – Ghezzal, Lemar, R.Lopes – Falcao (cap.)