The first match of the year at the Stade Louis-II went the way of the Monégasques with a big win over Angers (3-0). With three wins in four matches, the coach of the Rouge et Blanc, Niko Kovac, came to the press conference with a smile, satisfied with the performance of his players. He looked back on this success after match he called “the best since the start of the season.”
Good evening coach. It’s a very good evening for you …
Obviously. It’s our best match since the start of the season, it’s arguably the most complete overall. It was a great game. We did some good things in transition, in our pressing. We were very well organized and structured. We had possession of the ball. We deserve the victory, so yes I’m very happy.
Was it all the more important to be serious and diligent in the face of Angers who had just beaten Lille?
We knew before the match that Angers was a very good opponent very well organized and one comfortable playing on the road. We ended their good run of form. The players put in a great performance, we didn’t make any mistakes today. This clean sheet made it easier for us to win the match. I am very satisfied with the performance of all the players, especially the two forwards Wissam Ben Yedder and Kevin Volland who brought a lot to th table both defensively and going forward.
The central defense was solid tonight. Is this duo first choice for the long term?
They played very well today, as did Axel who has been performing well recently despite lacking a bit of success against Lorient. Our attackers are our first defenders, Kevin and Sofiane work great and that’s what we need. The high pressing was well practiced, it allowed us to recover the ball faster. The whole team defended very well.
It’s a second goal in two games for Guillermo, who was part of a back line that was very well organized. This is exactly what I expected from him. He has helped the team with his experience, he can guide the younger ones with that. I found that both of our defensive midfielders did a great job as well, being aggressive without making any mistakes. It gave us opportunities to counterattack, and that’s the level of performance I expect. I am happy with the level of play offered by our players this evening.
Wissam Ben Yedder didn’t score tonight. Do you think he’s lacking confidence?
When you play as a number 9, you want to score. I am satisfied with his performance. We know his qualities, we are a team and he helps him in every match with his experience. He did an outstanding job defensively — he’s the captain and he’s once again set an example. On the goal assisted by Caio Henrique, he was also well placed to score. And you will see that he will still score a lot of very important goals for the team.
What did you say to him when he was brought off?
Every player wants to score and play the full game. But we also have players on the bench who train during the week to play. We are a squadand I have to make choices to satisfy everyone. I told him he had a good game, he limited the opponents’ build-up play quite a lot. Without him we would have had fewer chances, to be sure.
Stéphane Moulin said in his post-match press conference that AS Monaco is a top 5 contender. Is that your opinion too?
I thank him for these words. But you know, everything moves very fast in football, there are a lot of good teams in Ligue 1. You have to keep pushing for the top spots, but it’s not easy. We are on the right track. If we play the next matches at 100% like tonight, we can lay claim to those first five places. We’re happy with the win, but it’s only half of the season. My players can still improve, it’s up to them to continue working.