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Rennes trying to burst Monaco bubble

Publish on 15/05/2021 at 10:52 - D. CROSSAN

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Coupe de France finalists Monaco are in a "performance bubble" as they attempt to secure Champions League qualification and a trophy in Niko Kovac's first season in charge.

MONACO - RENNES

(kick-off at 19:00 GMT)

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The Principality club went into the bubble before the Coupe de France semi-final win over Rumilly Vallières on Thursday and the squad will stay together until the end of the season. Monaco will take on Paris Saint-Germain in the Coupe de France final at the Stade de France on Wednesday evening and Kovac's side have unfinished business in the league as well. Third in Ligue 1 Uber Eats, Monaco need to stay in the top three to secure a return to the UEFA Champions League. Europe-chasing Rennes and Lens stand in their way.

Kovac, who has won 24 of his 25 domestic Cup matches as a coach, said on Thursday night: "I'm very happy to be playing against Paris and with a chance to play the final against a superb team. We're in it to win it. At the start of the season, the aim was to be successful and get Monaco back to the top table. We are already qualified for Europe and we have a great opportunity to win a trophy.

"A massive match"

"We have a massive match against Stade Rennais on Sunday and we'll need to be focused against difficult opponents. I can see that the players want to finish as high as possible, and want to continue to grow and progress. I don't want to stop them dreaming. They are doing that and they are continuing to work hard."

Midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni added on Thursday: "The coach told us that Sunday's match starts tonight. We need to recover as much as we can in order to be ready physically for Sunday. We're in a bubble where there is leisure time. We have the chance to think about other things than football, whether we're playing board games or table tennis. It reinforces the links between the players. It's the first time we have all been together like this since pre-season. That's positive. In order to great things, sometimes you need to make sacrifices."

"Important to take each game as it comes"

Kovac concluded: "I think it's important to take each game as it comes. Qualifying for the final was the best way to prepare for the game to come against Rennes. Maybe we'll have the chance to get some players back like Sofiane Diop, Krépin DIatta or Stevan Jovetic. That would give the team more options."

Rennes are seventh in the table and boosted by PSG and Monaco making the Coupe de France final, meaning that sixth in the table is now a European finish. Bruno Genesio's side drew 1-1 with PSG last weekend and in Round 37 take on another of the division's top teams.

Genesio admitted: "Sixth being a European place changes a lot of things, both in terms of fulfilling our objectives and also in terms of the summer, both in terms of recruitment and in keeping players at the club. Playing in Europe is always attractive to players, even if it's only the Conference League if we finish sixth. We still have the possibility of finishing fifth."

Probable Teams:

Monaco: Lecomte; Sidibé, Maripan, Badiashile; Aguilar, Tchouaméni, Fofana, Caio Henrique; Volland, Ben Yedder, Golovin

Rennes: Gomis; Traoré, Da Silva, Aguerd, Maouassa; Tait, Nzonzi, Camavinga; Bourigeaud, Terrier, Doku

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