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By Matthew Spiro in Monaco
AS Monaco FC coach Didier Deschamps has urged his players to keep last season's 8-3 drubbing of RC Deportivo La Coruña out of their minds when they face the Spanish side again in the UEFA Champions League at the Stade Louis II on Tuesday.
In the past
That record-breaking win helped Monaco top their group and acted as a springboard that eventually took the team all the way to the final, but Deschamps insisted that watching videos of it would not help his squad. "I haven't spoken to my players about it because it's not relevant [to Tuesday's game]," he said. "In football you must never look in the mirror. You always have to look forward and be attracted by the challenges that lie ahead."
Dado Pršo, Jérôme Rothen, Ludovic Giuly and Edouard Cissé were responsible for seven of the goals that night, but all four - as well as Fernando Morientes - have since left the club. Deschamps' new-look side struggled in their first Champions League outing this term, losing 2-0 at Liverpool FC, and the former France captain offered the following assessment: "None of my players were up to the required standard and neither was I. It was a bad start but everything is possible. We need three points on Tuesday to get our campaign well and truly under way."
'Starting to gel'
Monaco's domestic form has been more encouraging, with Saturday's battling goalless draw against Olympique Lyonnais ensuring they remain top of Ligue 1. "We're starting to gel better," Deschamps reflected, "and the understanding between the defence, the midfield and the attack is improving. I was satisfied by the display at Lyon."
Deschamps' preparations have not been helped by injuries to key players, although strikers Ernesto Chevantón and Shabani Nonda and midfield player Jaroslav Plašil are fit again and likely to be on the bench. Mohamed Kallon has shaken off a knock and should start behind front-men Javier Saviola and Emmanuel Adebayor, though Argentinian midfield player Lucas Bernardi is still sidelined with a knee injury.
Deportivo, meanwhile, have made a stuttering start in the Primera División, winning just one of their opening five games. Saviola, on loan from FC Barcelona, hopes Monaco can take advantage. "I'm surprised by the problems they are having," the 22-year-old said. "I'm sure they'll be back to their best soon - I just hope not before tomorrow night."
Deportivo coach Javier Irureta is looking forward to the opportunity of putting last November's humiliation behind him. "I'm delighted to be back because Monaco is a beautiful town and the team have become a big rival of ours," he said. "We must learn our lessons from last year and, in particular, be more wary of Monaco's counterattacking. The personnel has changed a lot but they still play the same way, even if they no longer have Rothen to supply crosses."
'Vital three points'
Juan Carlos Valerón, who is set to continue in attack, dismissed the suggestion that last season's semi-finalists would be out for revenge. "Of course we have been thinking about the 8-3," he admitted, "but it's a new game and a new context. It is vital to get three points".
The Spanish side must do so without Enrique Romero after the defender fell off his bicycle on Sunday evening. Joan Capdevila will replace him. Diego Tristán and Mauro Silva are also missing through injury, though Víctor Sánchez, Fran and Aldo Duscher are fit again after skipping the goalless draw with Olympiacos CFP on Matchday 1.
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