After a morale-sapping run of four matches without a win in all competitions, Ligue 1 Conforama champions Monaco hope to rediscover their form and fortune when they host Caen on Saturday afternoon.
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Leonardo Jardim has been left searching for solutions following Tuesday’s Champions League loss at home to Besiktas. Last season’s semi-finalists are bottom of their group and in Ligue 1 Conforama are six points off the pace being set by Paris Saint-Germain.
In Week 9 Monaco lost out by the odd goal in five at Lyon as Nabil Fekir scored with practically the last kick of the game and the principality club were also on the receiving end of a late goal in Week 8 when Souleymane Camara equalised at the Stade Louis II for Montpellier.
The late goals have cost Monaco three points and damaged their title defence, while the standard of play from Jardim’s men is well down on the exceptional level of last season. Following the Besiktas setback, Jardim said: “We haven’t had a lot of luck as we’ve conceded late goals and against Besiktas we were on the receiving end of a goal that was offside. That’s football and we have to deal with difficult moments.
“We’re lacking confidence after our bad results, but I believe in my team. I did some tactical modifications as we needed to make them. When everything’s going well and you’re winning games, you don’t need to modify things tactically.”
Monaco lined up against Lyon and Besiktas in a 4-2-3-1. Against the Turks, Jardim switched things up in the second half as the pacy Keita Baldé left his starting position on the right side to team up with skipper Radamel Falcao in attack and Rony Lopes came on for the ineffectual Youri Tielemans.
Falcao has struck 12 Ligue 1 Conforama goals in eight games this season and scored a blinding goal against Besiktas, befuddling Pepe before beating Fabri to give Monaco the lead. The Colombian missed the Lyon game following a late return from helping is national side qualify for the World Cup, while Fabinho was an absentee at the Groupaama Stadium through suspension.
Caen are set to be boosted by the return of leading forward Ivan Santini, the Croatian who was a late call-off for the home defeat to Angers last week with a minor knee injury. Caen have won five of their last seven league games and will hope to take advantage of Monaco’s lack of form and shaky belief.
Youssef Aït Bennasser, on loan from Monaco to Caen is excited at the prospect of facing his parent club: “We’ll be able to evaluate ourselves against a team that plays in the Champions League. I spent two months training with them over the summer and I don’t think the quality there has gone down. It’s all about adaptation and when they get the machine up and running it’s going to be very difficult to play against them.
“I think we’re taking them on at a good time. They’re destabilised. It will be a difficult game though. I belong to Caen this season and I’ll do everything I can to help us win. I want to prove to my parent club that in the future I’ll be able to impose myself there and play for them. I’m very happy. I prefer playing 35 games for Caen than 10 for Monaco.”