Ligue 1 Conforama back with a bang
By D. Crossan
The Ligue 1 Conforama season kicks off with a mouthwatering clash between Monaco and Olympique Lyonnais.
Having narrowly avoided relegation last season 2017 champions Monaco are targeting much, much better this time around, although coach Leonardo Jardim has played down expectations. Asked in his pre-match press conference whether the Principality club could aim for the top five the Portuguese replied: "At the moment the squad resembles that of last season. Adrien Silva, Vinicius and Sidibé have gone, while Aguilar and Lecomte have come in. You know the answer to your own question."
Falcao to go?
Ruben Aguilar and Benjamin Lecomte have both joined from Montpellier and Jardim has confirmed France squad man Lecomte will be the club's number one goalkeeper this season. While Jardim has generally been happy with Monaco's pre-season form, and been impressed by the displays of teenaged English defender Jonathan Panzo, he is concerned with Monaco's attacking capabilities. Radamel Falcao, Aleksandr Golovin and Keita Baldé, back after his loan spell at Inter Milan, are all suspended on Friday.
After scoring the winner in the 1-0 victory against Sampdoria last Saturday Colombian striker Radamel Falcao - starting the final year of his contract - hinted he might leave. The 33-year-old said: "I only have one year left on my contract and it's complicated for a player of my age. I think the club understand my position that I want to give my family tranquility for the future."
Jardim reacted: "Everyone knows I like the player. He's one of our players with the greatest qualities, is 100% professional and has been our goalscorer over the last few seasons. Of course I want him to stay but that's a negotiation between him and the club. As things stand we are in difficulty in attack. We have Lyle Foster, Moussa Sylla, Rony Lopes, Gelson Martins and Gabriel Boschilia and we need more players in order to be able to make changes in games. I want good players who will score goals to come in. We are not clinical enough and that was one of our biggest problems last season."
Sylvinho in charge of OL for the first time
OL boss Sylvinho takes charge in a Ligue 1 Conforama game for the first time and - like Jardim - the Brazilian is still hoping there will be additions to his squad. Sylvinho said: "As long as the market is open we might welcome in one or two more players, especially as there's the possibility of losing some. There's a possibility of reinforcing the attacking midfield area but it's the same as when it comes to looking for a defender in that it is a question of opportunity. If we find a player that suits the club and the directors then that's good."
Speaking about his Ligue 1 Conforama baptism, the former Arsenal defender commented: "It's a good time. The team will improve after three or four matches. I am impatient but that's a good thing. There are physical aspects to improve but there's a lot of hope."
Confirming he'll always play with four at the back, Bruno Genesio's replacement promised to be tactically flexible: "I love tactics but I love football more than the system. I must adapt my tactics to our opponents. We can play in 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2."
AS Monaco: Lecomte; Panzo, Glik (c), Jemerson; Aguilar, Henrichs, Fabregas, Ballo-Touré; R. Lopes, Foster, G. Martins
Olympique Lyonnais: A. Lopes; Dubois, J. Andersen, J. Denayer (c), Y. Koné; T. Mendes, Tousart, Aouar; B. Traoré, M. Dembélé, Depay