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Stumbling Monaco seek to right ship in Caen

Publish on 04/05/2018 at 00h00 - S. WILLIS

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AS Monaco will hope to arrest a worrying dip in form to keep their bid for a top-three finish on track at relegation-threatened SM Caen on Sunday.

 SM Caen - AS Monaco 

Just five short games ago, the 2016/17 champions were the closest side to title-winners Paris Saint-Germain, had a nine-point advantage over fourth-placed Olympique Lyonnais, and were seven clear of Olympique de Marseille in third.

Since, Leonardo Jardim's men have registered just a single win and picked up only five points to see Lyon move a point clear of them in second — France's other automatic qualifying place for the UEFA Champions League group stage — and watch Marseille ease to within a point.

The UEFA Europa League finalists would have been ahead of Monaco had they held on to their lead against Angers last weekend; a late equaliser for the hosts denied OM three points and was greeted as "the best news of the weekend" by Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev.

"Our aim will be to win all our matches until the end of the season," said Jardim, whose team were held to a disappointing goalless draw at home to Amiens last time out. "We'll see what our rivals do. We're going to keep working at 100 per cent with all the squad to be able to achieve our goal."

Jardim does not have quite everyone available though with Djibril Sidibé still sidelined and top scorer and captain Radalmel Falcao a major doubt after sustaining a thigh injury against Amiens. Stevan Jovetic, who successfully stood in for the Colombia superstar when he was injured earlier in the year, will not return to full training until next week.

Jardim: 'Serious situation'

"The situation is serious but there are still three games, and nine points. Not being second doesn't change anything. We may have less anxiety," said Jardim, who was happy despite the disappointment of the Week 35 result.

"The most important thing is to say that this team has tried to play with intensity. We put in 32 crosses. I'm very happy with their attitude. Of course, we lacked the final ball. We didn't have a shot on target. But we tried a lot."

Caen fans will have some sympathy with their counterparts from the principality. The Normandy club have not won since early March, registering just two draws in a miserable seven league outings since.

Last weekend's 3-1 loss at ESTAC Troyes leaves Patrice Garande's men only five point clear of the bottom two, and with work to do to preserve their top-flight status.

"I'm disappointed. We made a good start that lasted four minutes," explained a deflated Garande after the Week 35 defeat. "We'd improved some things in recent matches but forget about them. It's not good enough. I realise we were getting shut down but in these situations you need to be supportive, intelligent to find a way."

Probable teams

Caen: Vercoutre; Guilbert, Da Silva, Djiku, Bessat; Rodelin, Aït Bennasser, Féret (c), Deminguet; Santini, Crivelli

Monaco: Subasic; Touré, Glik, N'Doram, Raggi (c); Moutinho, Tielemans; Boschilia, Lemar, Lopes; Sylla