Ahead of Wednesday evening’s match at Angers, Monaco coach Niko Kovac highlighted his side’s repeated lapses in concentration that have proved costly for the Principality club this season.
ANGERS – MONACO
Monaco stand ninth in the table heading into Round 16, three places and two points back from Wednesday’s opponents and a further four points adrift of the top three. On Sunday Monaco drew 1-1 with Strasbourg and are winless in four matches, drawing their last three. Wissam Ben Yedder put Monaco ahead from the penalty spot, only for Strasbourg to equalise in the same manner through Ludovic Ajorque.
Kovac admitted: “We’ve conceded six penalties this season and that’s too many, especially at this level and in only 15 matches. We lack concentration. We should have won the game 1-0. We have trouble keeping clean sheets and not everything can be explained by the age of my players.”
Some distance off the standards set in finishing third in 2020-2021, Monaco have arguably saved their best form for the UEFA Europa League, having already qualified for the knockout stage. Continuing his analysis of the Strasbourg match, Kovac said: “We weren’t good enough to win. We didn’t create in the second half. We dropped off physically and mentally. We didn’t have the right spirit to win the game. I know it’s fatiguing playing every three days but we must manage to be able to be good every three days in order to be a good team.”
Disasi: "Clearing your mind"
Defender Axel Disasi added: “We played a big European match on Thursday and then played again on Sunday and then in midweek we will head to Angers. So the watchword is really recovery, clearing your mind, and seeing what we wan do better in the next match.”
Angers have won only one of their last six league matches, drawing 2-2 at Lens on Friday evening, meaning Gérald Baticle’s players will have enjoyed two more recovery days than Monaco. Being in the top third is an outstanding achievement at this stage of the season.
Baticle: "Never where you are in the table by chance"
Baticle commented: “We’re beyond a third of the way through the season and you’re never where you are in the table by chance, but the position remains fragile. The position in the table must above all allow us to have confidence when it comes to our playing principles. We need to extend our range, in order that opponents ask themselves questions when it comes to our organisation.”
Defender Romain Thomas scored the goal at Lens that earned Angers a point and no defender has scored more in Ligue 1 since 2015-2016 than Thomas, who has found the back of the net 14 times. Thomas said: “I’m happy with what we’re doing. We work hard and we’re getting our rewards. The draw was a fair result taking the match as a whole.”
Angers: (to follow)
Lens: (to follow)