Niko Kovac: "I told my players to savor the moment"
It was imperative to win this first “final” against Stade Rennais, and it was done thanks to goals from Wissam Ben Yedder and Aleksandr Golovin (2-1), a win that allows the Rouge et Blanc to stay third before the match of the league season in Lens next Sunday, four days after the Coupe de France Final against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday. After talking about the victory against Rennes in front of the media, Niko Kovac is now focused on the team’s next match.
Good evening Niko. It was a tough battle but a great at the end of the day…
Yes, it was a tough battle. Both teams tried to play positive football but the wind influenced the match a lot. As I said, Rennes are a very good team that is difficult to play against, and who play very good football. I am happy. We managed to take our chances in the first half. I want to congratulate my players, who gave 100%.
⚽️ 𝕃𝕒 𝕤𝕡𝕖́𝕔𝕚𝕒𝕝𝕖 @WissBenYedder ✨ #RISK #ASMSRFC pic.twitter.com/LncMqpfISL
— AS Monaco 🇲🇨 (@AS_Monaco) May 16, 2021
You will play for your season over the next six days…
I want to take things step by step. Until now, we were focused on Rennes. Now we have three days to prepare for PSG. This is the most important match. Only after this match we will talk about Lens. In the final, we will face the best team in France and one of the best in Europe. Before the game, I told my players to savor the moment. Having 77 points and to be fighting for the podium proves the level of our league.
Did you look for the Lyon result afterwards?
During the match, I didn’t want to know the result. I waited until I was in the locker room and was told they won. We cannot influence the results of others so we only focused on our performance.
Guillermo Maripán came off injured, and how is Fodé Ballo-Touré?
Guillermo complained about feel his thigh and had been given a booking earlier in the game as well. We didn’t want to take any chances and we brought Axel on. Fodé took a big knock, but it was more awkward than anything else. We were all very scared. He ended the meeting with a grimace, but he looks okay.
You ended up without a real striker at the end of the match; are you going to have Sofiane and Stevan back for the final?
Wissam and Kevin gave a lot defensively. That’s why I decided to take them off 10 minutes from time because we also have a big match on Wednesday. Jove ‘is likely to be in the squad. We will assess him tomorrow. For Sofiane, I am a little less optimistic that he can be on the pitch.
You are experiencing something exceptional in this first season, with a Coupe de France final and a place on the podium to play for ahead of the last round…
It’s true that for a first season it’s great to have this opportunity. This is important for me but also for the players and the club in general. I told my players to savor the moment. Today was kind of like a final. Wednesday, we will play another final. Young players need these kind of matches to develop. These matches are there to help them reach the next level, so it’s all good for the younger players.
🗣️ 𝑷𝒂𝒓𝒍𝒆, 𝒑𝒂𝒓𝒍𝒆 !
Le bizutage de Valentin Decarpentrie après ses premières minutes en professionnel 😄 #RISE
𝗖𝗲 𝗴𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗽𝗲 ❤️🤍 pic.twitter.com/dy9qTJjmBD
— AS Monaco 🇲🇨 (@AS_Monaco) May 14, 2021
Are you going to approach this game tactically the same as the one at the Parc des Princes?
Against PSG, we played two different matches. One was with Thomas Tuchel and the other with Mauricio Pochettino. We will analyze the last matches that PSG have played. We will play this game as an underdog We have a great opportunity to win. We believe in our qualities. We can limit them if we play 100%. Paris is a great team. We have two days to rest. We will prepare the match well tactically.
Do you have a psychological advantage? Will the opponents feel pressure at the risk of ending up without a title?
When you play for PSG, you have to win titles. Their players have already won a lot of trophies in their careers. They are used to dealing with this pressure. We put ourselves in David’s shoes. We hope that we can spring a surprise, and I believe we can.