Niko Kovac, Monaco

Kovac confident ahead of Brest-Monaco

Publish on 27/10/2021 at 12:16


Niko Kovac thinks his resurgent AS Monaco side can "fight for the top of the table" ahead of their trip to relegation-threatened Stade Brestois 29 on Sunday.

Stade Brestois 29 - AS Monaco


- kick-off: 16:00 GMT




Third last season behind champions LOSC and runners-up Paris Saint-Germain, Monaco had initially struggled to replicate that form this term, and only emerged from the bottom half of the table after beating promoted Clermont Foot 63 3-1 in Round 8.


The principality side have since turned a corner, though. Last Sunday's 3-1 win at home to Montpellier Hérault SC made it three wins from their last four in all competitions, and they are also top of a tricky-looking UEFA Europa League Group B - ahead of Real Sociedad and PSV Eindhoven - having beaten the Dutch outfit 2-1 away from home last Thursday.


Kovac: 'Top of Ligue 1'


It is fair to say spirits are high in the camp, and Monaco could even pull up to third on Sunday depending on other results. Kovac thinks they belong at the business end of the table.


"When I look along the bench, I see a high-level squad that can fight to be at the top of Ligue 1," he said following the Montpellier triumph. "I want to give time to the players who deserve it. It's a competition and everyone must show desire in training. I said this last season but I'm not giving anything away. Every player needs to work hard."


Watch: Highlights of Monaco's 3-1 win over Montpellier



Strike duo Wissam Ben Yedder and Kevin Volland did just that on Sunday. Both were on target, the former pulling up to a team-high six goals for the season while the latter was singled out for special praise having assisted that strike for 2-0.


"After 11 days of the season, I think we're getting better and better," Kovac continued. "We're progressing game after game. Like the second goal, well-taken goal by Wissam, with a very high recovery and this fantastic cross from Kevin. That's how I like to see my team."


Welcome selection headache


Aleksandr Golovin and Djibril Sidibé have returned to training after shaking off recent knocks, adding to the competition for places in the principality, but Cesc Fabregas and Krépin Diatta remain sidelined by hamstring and ankle injuries respectively.


Hosts Brest currently occupy the relegation play-off spot with only FC Metz and AS Saint-Étienne below them. Michel Der Zakarian's men may have less lofty ambitions than Monaco, but they do have a better all-time head-to-head record against Sunday's visitors, winning three of their five meetings since 2010.


Watch: Highlights of Brest's 1-1 draw at Lille



Recent history has been kinder to les Pirates, too, the Bretons showing shoots of promise in back-to-back 1-1 draws against Stade de Reims and then champions Lille. They may not boast a six-goal Ben Yedder, but former Monaco youngster Romain Faivre is up to three goals and four assists for the season.


His free-kick sealed the share of the points against LOSC on Saturday, but Der Zakarian was satisfied with the collectivee effort, and even thought his side could have got more from the game.


Der Zakarian: 'complete game'


"It's the game I expected in terms of discipline, both attacking and defensive," he explained. "We played a complete game from start to finish and defended well together. Unfortunately we weren't clinical enough. Christophe Hérelle started a match after eight months out and played well for an hour, although he was sucked in too easily for [Jonathan] David's goal."


Hérelle is expected to keep his place at centre-back ahead of Lilian Brassier, however. Goalkeeper Sébastien Cibois (Achilles' tendon) and defensive midfielder Paul Lasne (torn LCL ligament) remain on the injury list.


Possible teams


Brest: Bizot; Pierre-Gabriel, Chardonnet, Hérelle, Duverne; Magnetti, Belkebla; Honorat, Faivre, Le Douaron; Mounié


Monaco: Nubel; Aquilar, Disasi, Pavlovic, Henrique; Martins, Fofana, Tchouaméni, Matazo; Volland, Ben Yedder