Kick-off: Friday, 21:00
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Youssouf Fofana perfectly previewed the game in the pre-match press conference: “It’s the best defence in the league against the best attack in the league. Naturally, it will be a big battle,” succinctly summarised the France international midfielder. There will be an element of revenge as well for Les Monégasques given Nice’s 3-0 victory at the Stade Louis II last season. However, shutting Monaco out will prove a much more difficult task this season. With 15 goals so far this season, table-topping Monaco are the top-scorers, and with Folarin Balogun opening his account against Lorient last weekend, the Principality club will pose a significant threat.
However, Nice have shown themselves more than capable defensively so far this season, and Francesco Farioli’s side will be brimming with confidence following last weekend’s victory over Paris Saint-Germain. “This is our biggest opponent since the start of the league season,” said Adi Hütter, who is more than aware of the difficulty of the task at hand.
“We aren’t stars after two victories.”
Les Aiglons’ defensive solidity is consistent with last season, however, against Luis Enrique’s side, they added an attacking potency with Terem Moffi prolific and a thorn in PSG’s side, scoring twice and assisting another. In last season’s victory over Monaco, Moffi was on the scoreboard twice, and given the Nigerian’s form, he will be difficult to contain, especially given Monaco’s defensive frailties.
As well as wanting to build on that surprise victory at the Parc des Princes, Nice will be playing for local pride, as well as the top spot in Ligue 1, a position currently held by their local rivals. “It’s a match for which we don’t need any extra motivation,” said Farioli.
“But it being a derby means a lot for everyone. It’s true that playing for first place is a particular motivation, but we need to remain focused on what we do on a daily basis. We weren’t in a catastrophic situation after three draws; we haven’t become stars after two victories,” continued the 34-year-old Italian manager. A third consecutive victory in the Côte d’Azur derby may do little to convince Farioli that his squad are “stars” but it would solidify their European credentials.
Naturally, given their start to their season, Monaco have lofty ambitions of their own, and taking revenge for last season’s defeat would play a small but not insignificant role in helping them reach their goals. “The title? We are allowed to dream, aren’t we? It’s not banned. But beating Nice and staying first, that would still be good,” said Fofana. A fierce and significant battle awaits.
Monaco: Köhn, Magassa, Maripán, Singo; Henrique, Fofana, Camara, Vanderson; Golovin, Balogun, Minamino
Nice: Bulka; Bard, Dante, Todibo, Atal; Thuram, Ndayishimiye, Sanson; Boga, Moffi, Laborde
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