AS Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim believes his team deserves more respect for the accomplishments to date.
Monaco will face Italian champions Juventus later today in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final in Turin.
Despite winning the group and defeating Arsenal over two legs in the last round, the French side have continued to be branded ‘underdogs’ with most of the soccer world believing they are fortunate to still be in the competition at this stage.
Even though the club saw the departures of James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao over the summer, Monaco currently sit in third place in Ligue Un, just four points behind league leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
With all of this in mind, Jardim disagrees with the characterization of his team as ‘underdogs’ heading into the Champions League quarter-final against Juventus.
“We have only reached the quarter-finals because we deserved to,” the Monaco coach said during his pre-match press conference.
“We won our group and we eliminated a team like Arsenal in the last round. We are not underdogs, we deserve respect and to be considered alongside the rest of the teams in the quarter-finals.”
While Jardim isn’t comfortable with his side being referred to as ‘underdogs’, the Monaco coach will concede that his quarter-final opponents are the favorites to advance to the next stage of the Champions League.
“Juventus have quality and experience; they have players with great CVs, all older than 23,” Jardim continued. “We can say they are favorites, but we will play as we always do, respecting our opponents and trying to play our own game.
“This match is more difficult than the Arsenal one because Juve reached the quarter-finals so they are stronger than Arsenal.”
Monaco have been very organized and have executed to near-perfection to this point in the tournament, which has led many to compare them to a typical Italian team.
When asked if this comparison was fair, Jardim was in agreement with the overall assessment his side’s performances in the competition to date.
“Are Monaco playing like a typical Italian team? I can say that Monaco play in a very organized way with collective objectives, both defending and when attacking,” Jardim concluded. “Everybody in the team knows his role perfectly and what he is asked to do.
“Yes, maybe I can say that we play like Italian teams when we don’t have the ball and we want to win it back.”
Programming note: Juventus vs. AS Monaco will be shown LIVE on Tuesday at 2:45pm EST on FOX Sports 2 and FoxSoccer2Go.
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