Paris (AFP) – Monaco must put midweek events in Germany out of their minds and get back to the business of trying to win the French title as the Ligue 1 leaders entertain struggling Dijon on Saturday.
The game at the Stade Louis II comes in between the two legs of their Champions League quarter-final against Borussia Dortmund, with Monaco leading 3-2 from the first leg.
That game went ahead on Wednesday, having been postponed a day earlier following the bomb attack that hit the Dortmund team bus and left their defender Marc Bartra needing emergency surgery on his arm.
If Monaco were not affected in the same way as their opponents, the 24-hour postponement has had a knock-on effect on their preparations for a crucial encounter in the Ligue 1 title race.
“Everyone studied the calendar and realised that it wasn’t possible to change the date of the game,” said Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim when asked whether it was right to go ahead with the Dortmund game, albeit a day late.
“We couldn’t play on Friday, for example, when we had a match on Saturday. We need at least two recovery days between two matches.
“Our players were also affected. It is important and positive that there were no victims from this attack. Life must go on, that’s the way it is. Football and life are not going to stop.”
The Portuguese coach, whose side are unbeaten in the league since December, added: “All Champions League games, not just that one, are very tiring. The players give more than 100 percent and it is difficult to recuperate.”
The kick-off for Saturday’s match has been put back four hours in an attempt to give Monaco a little extra time to recover.
Jardim will rotate his squad for the match against opponents who are in the relegation zone, with France midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko set to start after being suspended in midweek. Valere Germain should play in attack with Radamel Falcao or Kylian Mbappe getting a rest.
– PSG ‘superior to Monaco’ –
Monaco are three points clear of defending champions Paris Saint-Germain at the summit with seven games remaining, but the capital side can move level on points with a win at Angers on Friday.
PSG will be without Julian Draxler, Layvin Kurzawa, Hatem Ben Arfa and Grzegorz Krychowiak at the Stade Raymond Kopa, while coach Unai Emery has admitted skipper Thiago Silva is “not yet 100 percent” after missing last week’s 4-0 win over Guingamp.
Their own Champions League hopes went up in smoke in Barcelona last month, but PSG have won 11 and drawn two of their last 13 league games to keep the pressure right on Monaco.
“Monaco and Nice are having excellent seasons. It doesn’t matter whether they play before us or after us — the only thing that matters is winning our matches,” Emery told reporters on Thursday.
Angers, who are 12th, ran the principality side close before losing 1-0 last weekend but their coach Stephane Moulin had a warning for his players.
“We must not think that because we caused Monaco problems we should do the same to Paris. Paris put four past Monaco (winning 4-1 in the recent League Cup final). I think at the moment they are superior to Monaco,” said Moulin.
Nice are four points off top spot having played a game more, and they can keep the pressure on the more-fancied sides above them with a win at home to Nancy on Saturday.
A victory will also guarantee them a top-three finish and a crack at the Champions League next season.
Angers v Paris Saint-Germain (1845)
Nice v Nancy (1500), Guingamp v Toulouse, Metz v Caen, Montpellier v Lorient, Rennes v Lille (all 1800), Monaco v Dijon (1900)
Nantes v Bordeaux (1300), Bastia v Lyon (1500), Marseille v Saint-Etienne (1900)
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