Niko Kovac: "Show the best of ourselves"
The tenth match of the calendar year for AS Monaco is already here. After a draw in the last round of Ligue 1 against Lorient (2-2), the Red and Whites are back in Ligue 1 action this Sunday. The teammates of Wissam Ben Yedder, scorer of a double against Les Merlus, will head to the Parc des Princes to face Paris Saint-Germain at 9 p.m. on Sunday. Before this crucial match for Niko Kovac‘s side — who will look to extend their unbeaten run — the Monégasque manager spoke to the press ahead of the match.
Hello Niko. Did you see PSG’s match against FC Barcelona this Tuesday?
To be honest, I did watch the match and was very happy that PSG put in such a performance. They played a quality match. We know that they as a club are one the up, and we expect a very difficult game. We’re not heading to Paris to test our luck, we want to do the best we can.
This will require a repeat performance of the reverse fixture…
Speaking of the match at the Stade Louis-II, we were down by two goals at the break, while two more had been ruled out for offside. It seemed like it was impossible to get back to level terms. Our first half was not good — things had not been easy against such an opponent. We had opportunities to come back afterwards. We will have to be focused from the first few minutes of the match, and reduce their number of chances from the start. We hope to take one point from this match, or maybe even more.
🔚 On conclut avec le but de la victoire, inscrit sur penalty par @cesc4official dans le money time 🤩 #ASMPSG
𝙇𝙚 𝙨𝙖𝙣𝙜-𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙞𝙙 👀 pic.twitter.com/DgCLtPNosA
— AS Monaco 🇲🇨 (@AS_Monaco) November 23, 2020
The domination of the league by PSG is less the case this year. Do you think it’s the fault of them performing more poorly in the league, or that it’s thanks to the good play of Lille and Lyon?
I think both are factors in this. Lille and Lyon and even AS Monaco are performing better than in previous seasons. Paris have dropped more points than usual. So there is a mix of the two, the league is tighter this season. We know they are the best team in the league, with the best players. The end of the season is approaching, their motivation is growing in order to finish well and win the title. They are expected to end the season in unstoppable form. The level of play against such a team will be very high.
Did you have a thought this week, about the number of goals conceded versus shots conceded?
We know the statistics on this subject, we are working every day on the pitch and via video to correct our mistakes. We had 75% possession against Lorient, we have to do better when we don’t have the ball. There were twenty minutes when we didn’t play as well. We have to reduce our margin of error. We have to defend better, especially in midfield. This is the difference between us and the teams on the podium. It is important to improve on these aspects of our play. We have three good goalies. They haven’t made any big mistakes since the start of the season. We’re just lacking that little bit of success. There are still 13 games to correct the situation.
Tell us about corners, where you’ve been performing very well.
It may be easier than you might imagine. You have to be lucky enough to have players who can do well with their deliveries — we have good takers of set pieces in the squad. I am happy with this situation. We also have three tall defenders, which gives us an advantage in the air in the opponent’s box. The smaller players like Wissam and Kevin are also comfortable in this regard. It’s a mix between finding the right spaces and being clinical with our finishing. We analyze our opponents, and I also have the chance to work with Robert who works hard on set pieces.
🎦⚽️ L'AS Monaco prend l'avantage sur un nouveau corner d'Aleksandr Golovin, qui trouve la tête d'AIR @atchouameni 🚀
𝑺𝒐𝒏 1𝒆𝒓 𝒃𝒖𝒕 𝒆𝒏 @Ligue1UberEats 💥
— AS Monaco 🇲🇨 (@AS_Monaco) January 25, 2021
Your players seem to have a lot of unity in the squad, have you ever experienced such a great atmosphere at a club in your career?
We have a good atmosphere within the squad because we are performing well at the moment. Off the pitch everyone gets along well, which is very important if you want to achieve good results. We feel the desire to work hard together, and the current results have been possible because the team is united. Those who are playing less participate as well in fostering this state of mind — there is a good understanding among the group. This will allow us to reach our goals at the end of the season if it continues.