Niko Kovac: "I love Cup matches"
The matches keep coming and the results are the same for AS Monaco. The Principality club has experienced only victory in 2021, with seven straight wins in the league, including the latest against Nîmes (4-3). There’s no time to savor these, however, as the Coupe de France is already here for Niko Kovac‘s side. The coach of the Rouge et Blanc spoke with press the day before the team’s trip to Grenoble (Stade des Alpes, 2:45 PM).
Hello coach. What is your state of mind before this game, will you go hard after it or try to win at all costs?
The Coupe de France is another competition but I like this kind of match because in the past in Germany I reached the final three times, winning twice. It’s a competition I care about. It’s also a good opportunity to get the team rotated and for the players who usually play a little less to show me their qualities. I have said it in the past, we are lucky to have a very good team and quality on the bench. We want to give everyone the opportunity to play — that’s normal. We are lucky to have great professionals who work well during the week.
Is it a point of regret not to be able to face one of the amateur sides in this first round?
We know we are in a very unique situation with the pandemic. I like the usual Coupe de France format, this opportunity for amateur clubs to be able to play against professional clubs. But we have to adapt and focus on this match against Grenoble who will be a tough opponent in the Round of 64.
Isn’t the balance difficult to strike between defending well and attacking?
It’s not easy to find the right balance between a good defense and a prolific attack, indeed. Maybe when you concentrate too much on defending well, you will be able to offer less getting forward. Our opponents are often caught out close to their goal, so that’s why we want to press really high, but we have to be careful. This is modern football, the best teams in the world play that way, they press really high to win the ball back quickly. Our young players are learning this style of playing.
What’s your relationship like with Robert, your brother?
When you have your brother by your side all the time, you have 100% confidence and that is what we need. We are brothers but we are also coaches and sometimes we don’t agree. We often debate and sometimes we change our ways of thinking, even if I have the last word. But I never had a problem admitting that I was wrong. Robert as a number one? I’ve asked him about this, but for now he tells me he’s very happy to be in this role (smiles).
You will therefore rotate your eleven for this Cup match. Who will play in goal?
Radoslaw will be in the goal for tomorrow’s game. While Benjamin was injured, Vito played. Radoslaw has only started against Nantes so far, on Matchday 3. I see him working in training, and he deserves to start and have a chance. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. But there is no hierarchy in terms of who is the number 2.
And for the others who are playing less at the moment, like Axel Disasi?
Djibril was not playing at the start of the season because Ruben had a run of very good performances, but he continued to work and to be very professional. Just like Guillermo wasn’t playing because Axel had been good, and today it’s the other way around. Tomorrow some will have the opportunity to play, and I hope they will take that chance.
Which system do you plan to use?
There is no reason to change a system that works. We don’t have time to change our plans. But I still have 24 hours ahead of me and a good night to think about the starting lineup (smiles).
Finally, what is your prediction for the final of the Club World Championship?
Bayern Munich are the best team in the world, so I think Bayern will win. Although the Mexicans have good players, especially Carlos Salcedo, whom I trained in Frankfurt, I think Bayern will win this title, because today they are the best team in the world.