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Team 23 October 2021, 22:56

Niko Kovac: "The right time to get up to speed"

Niko Kovac: "The right time to get up to speed"
Happy to have won the 200th European match in the history of AS Monaco, the Croatian manager spoke to the media on the eve of a visit from Montpellier to the Stade Louis-II (5pm).

Stringing together the results. After an important win on the third matchday of the Europa League on away to PSV Eindhoven (2-1), the Rouge et Blanc now want to get back to winning ways in the league. Niko Kovac’s men have their first opportunity this Sunday against Montpellier (kick off 5 p.m.),  as part of the 11th matchday of Ligue 1, as they hope to erase the memory of their defeat in Lyon a week ago. Before facing this new challenge, against an in-form opponent, the Monaco coach spoke with the press.

How to pick up more points at home

Obviously our home games are very important and have not always been successful in terms of results since the start of the season, as we remain on only two wins at the Stade Louis-II. We really have to be solid. Away from home there are always different difficulties, factors that are less well understood, including  supporters that strongly support their team. We need to improve at home, because it is important to win as many matches as possible at home. We know we can’t win all 19 matches, but we have to try to win as many of them as possible.

Last season when I arrived I was told there were a lot of fans on the road. I'm very happy to see so many people coming to support us even when we're far away, like in Eindhoven when there were 400 or 500 supporters.
Niko Kovac Manager, AS Monaco

On the support of so many fans away from home

Last season when I arrived I was told there were a lot of fans on the road. I’m very happy to see so many people coming to support us even when we’re far away, like in Eindhoven when there were 400 or 500 supporters. At home, we know the situation, which is different, and it is not a recent phenomenon. The players like to play in front of a lot of fans; there is extra motivation when the stadium is full. We have to get the fans coming in at home by showing an attractive style of play, that’s how we’ll make people want to come and see us. And with the players we have in the team, I think it’s going to get better in the future.

How to manage the matches that come after European play

For every team that plays in a European competition, you have one more match to play per week and you travel a lot, sometimes far. You have to know how to manage stress well and recover as quickly as possible, and to rest well. There are a lot of factors, and there can be consequences despite your best efforts. At the same time, you have to learn to play football so as to win all of your matches. Sometimes I push my players, to have the same desire in each match, after each victory, without reminding myself what we have done after a win. Some of our players are facing this rhythm for the first time, so it’s a process.

 

When you have good physical preparation at the start of the season and get to a good level of fitness, you know that you will be able to keep up in the matches. Then there is a schedule to be respected, recovery protocols that come into play. If you can recover faster, you are able to recover well, you reduce the risk of injury, and that is what we are trying to do, to work on a daily basis.
Niko KovacManager, AS Monaco

On recovery in the week of a European match

For me there are a lot of things to keep in mind. When you have good physical preparation at the start of the season and get to a good level of fitness, you know that you will be able to keep up in the matches. Then there is a schedule to be respected, recovery protocols that come into play. If you can recover faster, you are able to recover well, you reduce the risk of injury, and that is what we are trying to do, to work on a daily basis. It’s important for us to keep the players healthy, and we’re doing a very good job on that.

On a different style of play in the league

When we have the ball, as is so often the case in the league, we know what to do with it, we have a plan to follow. In the European Cup, I would say it’s different. You have to respect your opponent, and there are also differences when you play away from home, against very well organized teams, like Real Sociedad or PSV for example. You have to constantly adapt to the situation. It’s really different on the road, you’re more tempted to play on the counter and adapt to your opponent’s style. Tomorrow we may have a little more possession against Montpellier, but it’s up to us to adapt.

 

It means a lot to us, it's very important for everyone, the Club, the supporters, to have won our 200th match. AS Monaco has a great tradition in European play.
Niko Kovac On victory in the club's 200th European match

On victory in the team’s 200th European match

It means a lot to us, it’s very important for everyone, the Club, the supporters, to have won our 200th match. AS Monaco has a great tradition in European play. It’s always important and fun to win a match, but when you see a number like that, in Europe it has a special flavor.

On the match against Montpellier 

Montpellier has changed their coach, their style of play. They lost two very good players in their attack. So far, they have adjusted well, and are playing good football. They are very dangerous, and we expect to face a team that will attack us, try to hurt us. What is important is to be in a good position. I am repeating myself but matches in Ligue 1 are always difficult, especially after a European match during the week. All the clubs are very close together in the middle of the table, behind PSG who are far ahead, and in two or three matches, our position can change very quickly. We want to improve, and I think tomorrow’s match is a good opportunity to get three points.

 

Rise. Risk. Repeat.

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