Monaco vs Nantes: The Stade Louis II will be the site of Monaco’s first Ligue 1 fixture in 2021-22 when they welcome Nantes on Friday evening.
Maintaining a third place finish from last season, Niko Kovac is looking to maintain his team’s Champions League status and guide them out again this year with their opener against Nantes. The hosts finished just one point behind Lyon for second place last term while Les Canaris were able to hold onto top flight football by finishing 17th, three points ahead of Metz – who ironically got relegated alongside Marseille after winning promotion via the playoffs at AS Monaco’s expense during 2017/18.
Kovac’s men, despite inconsistency in the first half of their 2020-21 campaign, proved able to keep pace with Lille and Paris Saint-Germain right up until the final knockings of this season. Third position was ultimately claimed five points behind champions Monaco.
Les Monégasques have been a team of many surprises this season, but their latest feat is one that they will likely never forget. The Monegasque club has had an impressive campaign in the Champions League qualifying rounds so far – after being drawn against Sparta Prague for qualification into the group stage, Les Monegasques were able to secure victory over them with a 1-0 lead going forward to their away game on Wednesday night.
Les Monégasques took down Czech Republic’s Sparta Prague at home in Monaco and dominated possession throughout most of what was left from regular time as well as extra time which saw Kovac’s side take all three points back onto French soil ahead of next week’s return leg where
Monaco have taken a 2-0 lead back to the French Riviera, with a clash against Genk or Shakhtar Donetsk awaiting them in their quest for European group stage qualification.
After a string of impressive performances, Monaco’s pre-season has come to an end with Kovac in charge. In their last exhibition game against Real Sociedad, the team managed only one goal from their two shots on target and lost 2-1 despite nine key players missing due to international commitments at Euro 2020 or injuries sustained throughout preseason. Despite this setback, they recorded losses during these four exhibitions games – Wolfsburg (2), Red Bull Salzburg (4) and Cercle Brugge (0).
“Despite their immense success and heavy investment over the years, Paris Saint-Germain have never lifted France’s most prestigious club trophy. That changed on Saturday night when they beat Monaco to lift the Coupe de France.”
The principality side came agonisingly close to a piece of silverware in the form of French Cup only to be outclassed by serial winners PSG in final but Monaco are certainly in good hands with Kovac who has every right for another title charge this season as well.
Nantes’ last ditch efforts to stay in France’s top flight fell short. In their four game winning streak before the final day, they were unable to best Montpellier and secure a spot in next season’s Ligue 1.
The story of French side Nantes this year is one that will be remembered for years- not because it was an exciting time there but more so due to how close things came: just one win away from safety, with two games remaining on the schedule against teams who have nothing left at stake other than pride after finishing much higher up on the table already ensured life would go back down south come 2019/2020.
It proved to be third time lucky for Nantes after Christian Gourcuff and Raymond Domenech were given the boot before Kombouare’s appointment, but the former PSG coach has hardly been able to take inspiration from his side’s pre-season endeavours.
Indeed, Les Canaris claimed a 1-0 success over Guingamp and an impressive 3-1 win over Brest, but they would proceed to lose Caen, Niort, Lorient and Ligue 1 new boys Clermont – not exactly an inspiring run of form before another inevitable fight to keep pace with the big boys in the top division.
Furthermore, Nantes travel to the Stade Louis II on a six-game losing streak against Monaco, who claimed a pair of 2-1 victories over Les Canaris last season, and Friday’s visitors have not won this battle on the road since both sides plied their trade in Ligue 2 during the 2012-13 season.