Although AS Monaco suffered a 2-1 defeat in their final friendly against Real Sociedad, their preseason has been full of positives.
Kicking off their warm up to the new season in style by beating a talented Red Bull Salzburg side 3-1 served as the perfect start. Coming back from a goal down, Niko Kovac’s men grew into the game nicely before youngster Enzo Millot equalised just before half time.
Ringing in the changes for the second half, the introduction of Sofiane Diop and Anthony Musaba especially swung the match in Monaco’s favour, with both men scoring to complete a strong win for the team.
Les Monegasques then backed this up with an encouraging 3-1 triumph vs. Cercle Brugge, where they once again showed their mettle to fight back after conceding early. Getting the goals were Diop, Chrislain Matsima and Pietro Pellegri, as Monaco flexed their muscles and used this hitout to get some valuable minutes into the legs.
Antwerp were then the adversary for their third hit out, in a match that Kovac was satisfied about despite the 0-0 scoreline. Taking the chance to give prospects Felix Lemarechal and Maghnes Akliouche their first senior minutes and assess the fitness of his team, he cut a content figure afterwards. “This match was a very good test with the return of supporters to the stadium, a factor which added to the competitive atmosphere,” he explained.
“I am satisfied because we played with intensity against a great Antwerp team who finished third in the Jupiler Pro League last season and who seem ready to restart the championship next weekend. I found that the boys responded to the challenge, attempting to reproduce what we have been working on for three weeks.
“The aim was also to rotate and give some playing time to the young players from the Academy and they showed interesting things. We are now going to return to Austria to continue working hard and continue our preparation under the best possible conditions.”
Their fourth contest saw the club achieve their best result by once again recovering from an early deficit to claim a 2-1 win against Wolfsburg. Producing a wicked second half led by subs Krepin Diatta and the returning Aleksandr Golovin, Les Rouge et Blanc ultimately overcame a classy Wolfsburg who qualified for the Champions League by virtue of finishing fourth in the Bundesliga.
Extracting plenty of upside from the performance Kovac noted how impressed he was that his team successfully implemented many concepts they’d been working on in training and their positive attitude.
Ending their stretch of five practice matches with the aforementioned loss vs. La Real, this allowed Monaco’s coach the chance to offer his reflections on his troops’ preseason when speaking after the game. “We gave a lot, worked a lot during this preparation which was overall very positive in my eyes with quality training sessions on all fronts. Taking into account the workload for over a month, I found that there were excellent sessions, interesting content in our game, involvement and an obvious desire to do well. This is a good omen,” he insightfully stated.
“We still have a week of work ahead of us and some adjustments to make in order to be as close as possible to our best level.”
In a preseason full of upside that’s allowed Kovac to secure crucial minutes for his younger and more experienced players, plus work on his tactical plans and get his players up to speed physically, there’s been a lot to like about their build up to the new term.
Now the real action begins, though, as Monaco face a tough test against Sparta Prague in their Champions League qualifier next week.
Having put all the work in during the previous month, Monaco’s thorough preparations should ensure they’re ready for this hugely important first competitive fixture and the busy season ahead.