Author of two quality performances against Paris (2-0 victory) then against Brest (2-0 win), Axel Disasi has become one of the great architects of the two recent clean sheets obtained by AS Monaco. As proof of this, Niko Kovac maintained the same eleven which had allowed the Monegasques to bring back three points from the Parc des Princes. On the eve of the trip to Strasbourg (9 p.m. behind closed doors), as part of the 28th Matchday of Ligue 1, the AS Monaco vice-captain looked back on the last few weeks of work.
Hello Axel. You have recorded two straight matches without conceding a goal. How do you explain this?
It’s a collective effort. We see that thanks to this new system, we can better control the opponent. We don’t concede a lot of chances. It’s good for the rest of the season. We’ve been strong lately, but this makes it even more so. All of this involves work and discussion on a daily basis in training. We protect each other, and we are well-balanced all over the pitch.
How do you feel about getting on the bench and then coming back to the team?
We do not give up, it all requires work. There is a personal need to challenge myself as well as having that come from the coach. We all wait for our turn. Now we have to give our all to stay on the pitch. The coach spoke to me, he kept his confidence in me, and told me he was aware of my qualities. One must never give up, and I knew sooner or later my luck would come.
You are vice-captain but you had found yourself on the bench. How did you experience this?
There are no promises made, that’s football. We have a quality squad, and everyone is fighting for their place. This is good for our goals.
What does playing as a right back change for you?
I must have played two or three matches in this position with Reims. Unlike central defence, there is a lot more running and volume of play. I’m learning, it allows me to understand another role. Basically, I am a central defender. The biggest difference is when you lose the ball, you have to put in a lot of effort to recover it.
— AS Monaco 🇲🇨 (@AS_Monaco) February 23, 2021
Guillermo has been starting before you, have you talked to each other?
No we didn’t specifically talk about that, he came into the team and he did his job. I worked a lot, I was patient. He took his chance; it had already been my turn. I worked and waited, it’s good for the squad.
Are you among the three mood-setters in the group, along with Youssouf and Aurélien?
Youssouf is the craziest, and they were the first two who made me feel very welcome. We are in the same age group, and we are happy to all play together.
Do you have a notion of progress under Niko Kovac despite a difficult start to the season?
Yes when we know results are like this, that the coach has improved things. It took a little while to understand his ideas, but now we’ve been working together for seven months. This translates into very good results. We better understand his philosophy. Personally, I try to take as much information as possible from him, for my personal progress. He managed a great Bayern Munich side, he knows what he is talking about. It is important to listen to him in order to progress.
Does he sometimes draw parallels with his previous experiences?
From time to time yes. This is a good thing because we are a young squad and we all want to know about this kind experience. The fact that he has passed through locker rooms like the one at Bayern shows the demands and the work necessary to be put in place.
There is competition within the squad…
The competition is healthy, we are a very good group. There is a good mix between younger players and those that are more experienced. There is a lot of youth, that makes it easier for us to get along. We laugh a lot every day. The coach and the staff are there to apply rigor.
Are the Champions League and the title taboo subjects?
We are doing very well in the standings, we are still unbeaten in 2021. There is a gap to the teams behind us. We’re taking the matches one after the other, we want to finish as high as possible. We will give everything to play for the top places.
There is less pressure on your shoulders.
We are competitors, we have a good run going. We’ll fight to keep it that way. It’s a pleasure to continue this run, we will give everything to keep it going.
There are regularly eight French starters for AS Monaco. This may be the future of the French team, no?
This stat is nice. We play in the French league so it’s good to represent our country. In addition, AS Monaco is a prestigious club in the history of this league. Playing together for the French national team would be the Holy Grail.
There is currently work going on at the La Turbie training center. Is it sometimes a problem?
It can distract us. This is for our good, to further improve our performance. We deal with our issues patiently, we can not wait for the work to be completed, to be able to take advantage of the new facilities.
Can Strasbourg be a tricky match?
Internally, the coach has created a very good squad. The league season is challenging, all the teams want to win. Tomorrow we expect a tough game because they need points to stay up. They are coming off a very good match against Lille. We will have to be very careful.