Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri accepts the pressure will be on his side as they visit Guingamp in Wednesday’s Coupe de France semi-final.
Ranieri’s side are the favourites to win France’s oldest domestic competition for a sixth time following a campaign that has seen them challenge Paris Saint-Germain for the Ligue 1 title in their first season back in the top flight.
Monaco, who won Ligue 2 last term, spent big in the close-season to bring in stars such as Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho, however, their quest to win the French league crown appears set to fall short.
They trail PSG by 10 points with five games remaining, yet can still end the campaign on a high by securing glory in the Coupe de France.
Monaco last won the tournament back in 1991, and came close to doing so again in the 2010 final, only to lose 1-0 to PSG.
Only relegation-threatened Guingamp stand in the way of a return to the Stade de France for Ranieri’s men, but the Italian is not anticipating an easy passage through to the final, and has called for his players to show fight in order to keep their hopes of silverware alive.
“I’m sure Guingamp will play with freedom,” Ranieri said.
“The pressure is on Monaco. They (Guingamp) have good, powerful players.
“Winning a title would be important. I want to see the desire to win in my players and to please the fans.”
Guingamp – promoted with Monaco and Nantes last campaign – head into the game in the midst of a woeful slump that has seen them slip to within five points of the Ligue 1 drop zone.
Jocelyn Gourvennec’s team have won only four of their last 22 league matches and are yet to face a top-tier team in this season’s Coupe de France.
But it is the Brittany club that have the most recent experience of winning the tournament, as they beat neighbours Rennes 2-1 in the 2009 final despite being a league below them.
And a repeat of that final could be on the cards if Guingamp progress and Rennes overcome fellow second-tier Angers in their last-four clash.
However, the hosts are likely to be without two experienced players at the Stade du Roudourou, with midfielder Lionel Mathis (Achilles) and defender Reynald Lemaitre (calf) both expected to miss out.
Meanwhile, Monaco have no pressing injury concerns as they aim to win a first major trophy since claiming the 2003 Coupe de la Ligue title.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!