It’s a big day for Niko Kovac this Friday. The coach of AS Monaco is turning 50, the day before a big match against Lyon as part of the 10th round in Ligue 1 (9 p.m.). It’s a fine opportunity to review the most significant moments since his arrival at the Club in July 2020. And the choice is difficult, as his first full season on the bench was a success. Here are five milestones for the Croatian manager in his time in the Principality
Arriving at the Club (July 19, 2020)
“The coach of the Club needs to assert their ambitions and build a solid foundation for them to achieve lasting success.” This is how Paul Mitchell, Sporting Director, qualified Niko Kovac when the coach arrived at AS Monaco on July 19, 2020. After winning the 2018 German Cup with Eintracht Frankfurt and then achieving the Bundesliga treble of league – Cup – German Supercup the following season at the head of Bayern Munich, the Croatian manager arrives on the Rock with the ambition “that AS Monaco each the summit domestically as well as in European competitions,” a goal that would be achieved in his first season on the bench.
The “remontada” against PSG (November 20, 2020)
After a tough start to the season, with time to assimilate the new methods of the coaching staff, AS Monaco started a good run at the beginning of November. After wins against Bordeaux (4-0) and Nice (1-2), the Rouge et Blanc hosted PSG, the defending French champion. Trained at the Academy, Kylian Mbappé stung his former club with a brace in the first period. But the “remontada” would come, first thanks to a quickfire double from Kevin Volland (52′, 65′), then a cool finish by Cesc Fàbregas from the penalty spot (84′). It was a victory that showed great mental strength and was a foundation for the rest of the season.
Victory in the 100th derby (February 3, 2021)
You know the catchphrase: “A derby cannot be played, it is won”. Niko Kovac has absorbed it perfectly, since he led AS Monaco to three wins against OGC Nice last season (two in Ligue 1 and one in the round of 16 of the Coupe de France). The Rouge et Blanc won, under his direction, the 100th derby in history, on February 3 at the Stade Louis-II (2-1), thanks to a brace from Wissam Ben Yedder, including a fine free kick; it’sa moment that will remain strong in the memories of the Club’s supporters.
— AS Monaco 🇲🇨 (@AS_Monaco) February 4, 2021
A tactical masterclass at the Parc des Princes (February 21 2021)
There are some matches that impress more than others, and the clash between PSG and AS Monaco, on February 21 at the Parc des Princes, is certainly one of those. Against the Parisians, the Rouge et Blanc delivered a perfect performance in terms of their organization and discipline, perfectly muzzling the opponents’ attacking stars, like Kylian Mbappé. Sofiane Diop, with a header from close range (6′), and Guillermo Maripán (51′), with a shot in from the right, made good on a superb collective performance, one which was rewarded with a famous win in Paris (2-0).
🔥 Il était partout face au PSG ! Solide en défense et chirurgical en attaque pour inscrire son 5⃣ème but de la saison !
— AS Monaco 🇲🇨 (@AS_Monaco) February 22, 2021
The route to the Coupe de France final (May 19, 2021)
The statistics are simply mind-blowing, but they are very impressive: since joining Eintracht Frankfurt in 2016-2017, Niko Kovac has lost only… two domestic cup matches! This run of incredible success he started in the German Cup, reaching three consecutive finals (one lost and one won with Frankfurt, one won with Bayern Munich), then continued in France. During his first season on the Rock, the Croatian manager took his team to the final, successively eliminating Grenoble (1-0), Nice (2-0), Metz (0-0 5-4 on penalties), Lyon (2-0) and then Rumilly-Vallières (5-1). If this fine run unfortunately ended with defeat in the final against PSG (2-0), it proved the ability of “Coach Niko” to shine in this competition.