Survival target for Monaco and Amiens
By I. Holyman
AS Monaco head into their final Ligue 1 Conforama home game of the season looking nervously over their shoulders as they seek to chase the spectre of relegation from the Stade Louis II against Amiens SC on Saturday.
AS Monaco - Amiens SC
Runners-up last season, Monaco have not finished out of the top three since returning to the French top flight in 2013 — this term, they remain in serious danger of ending in the bottom three with just 180 minutes of league football left.
The 2016/17 French champions come into the game out of the bottom three on goal difference — -19 to SM Caen's -20 — and just two points above the automatic relegation spots. With Amiens only a place and two points better off, the match takes on capital importance, though Leonardo Jardim is keen to emphasise his players still have the club's destiny in their control.
"There's no fire. We still believe we can stay up. That's the the objective at least," he said after last weekend's 1-0 loss at Nîmes that stretched his team's winless run to seven league outings.
WATCH: Monaco slip to defeat at Nîmes
"Monaco still depend on their own results. Victory is crucial next week at home. We lacked impact and intensity [against Nîmes]. The situation is difficult. I know securing top-flight survival is difficult. We still have two games to save our season. Nothing has been decided. We have to get the job done. Everyone is aware that Monaco is in a difficult position. We have to go forward."
Going forward has not been something Monaco — so devastatingly attacking in their most recent title-winning season — have been able to do effectively this season.
Falcao: 'Stay focussed'
Top scorer Radamel Falcao has 14 league goals, but none of the Colombian's teammates have managed to find the net more than four times this season, and were unable to respond to Renaud Ripart's early goal at Nîmes in their Week 36 encounter.
"In the situation we find ourselves in now, we cannot afford to lose concentration, because you pay dearly for that," said Falcao after the defeat, which means the final day trip to OGC Nice for a fiery Côte d'Azur derby could decide the club's fate.
"We have to stay focussed for 90 minutes. We now have a game at home, we have to give our all and most importantly stay focussed."
What is most worrying for Monaco is that they also don't have that other all-important commodity at this stage of the season: momentum.
Pelissier: 'Accentuate the positive'
Over the last seven matches, Jardim's men have picked up just three points, the lowest tally of any of the bottom five. Caen, by stark contrast, have collected 13 points over the same time period to radically close the gap.
Monaco's saving grace is that Amiens have managed only six points in that timeframe, sucking Christophe Pelissier's side into danger. They have been limping towards the line, drawing eight times and losing just once in their last ten matches.
WATCH: Amiens held by Toulouse
With games against Monaco and already relegated En Avant Guingamp to come, Pelissier is aware his team are still in the most comfortable position of any of the four teams that could join Guingamp in Domino's Ligue 2 next season.
"We're still ahead of our rivals," he said following last weekend's 0-0 at home to Toulouse FC, Amiens' fifth goalless draw in their last eight matches.
"We need to accentuate the positive a bit more. That's what I have said to my players, and for them not to worry about the others. It's going to be played out in the head from now on."
Monaco: Benaglio; Sidibé, Glik, Naldo, Ballo-Touré; Jemerson, Silva; Martins, Golovin, Lopes; Falcao
Amiens: Gurtner; Krafth, Adenon, Dibassy, Pieters; Otero, Monconduit, Blin, Ghoddos; Timité, Guirassy