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Monaco set for Spanish test

Published: Wednesday 8 December 2004, 10.36CET
AS Monaco FC travel to RC Deportivo La Coruña knowing that only a win will guarantee progress from Group A.

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Published: Wednesday 8 December 2004, 10.36CET

Monaco set for Spanish test

AS Monaco FC travel to RC Deportivo La Coruña knowing that only a win will guarantee progress from Group A.

As the Riazor prepares to play host to its final European game of the season, RC Deportivo La Coruña meet AS Monaco FC with both sides seeking three UEFA Champions League points for vastly different reasons.

European elimination
Deportivo, who reached the semi-finals of the competition last season before losing to eventual winners FC Porto, have taken only two points from their first five Group A games, with defeat at Olympiacos CFP two weeks ago confirming the Spanish side would finish bottom of the section.

Victory required
Monaco, meanwhile, lie in second place with nine points, one fewer than Olympiacos, but need victory in La Coruna to ensure progress as third-placed Liverpool FC are two points behind but would finish ahead of the French side on head-to-head record should the two finish level on points.

'Will to win'
Despite the contrasting fortunes of the two sides in this season's Champions League, Didier Deschamps urged caution ahead of the trip to Spain. "We hold all the cards, but still have to pull out this victory," the Monaco coach said. "Even though the Galician side have nothing to play for, they have their pride. They will want to win for the love of the club, for the supporters and for the directors. Their will to win will be there."

Nonda out
Monaco's Congolese striker Shabani Nonda will miss the decisive match with a torn muscle in his right thigh, while Jaroslav Plašil is sidelined with a hamstring problem and defender Julien Rodriguez is also out injured. Monaco secured their first victory in nine Ligue 1 games on Friday, defeating Stade Rennais FC 2-0, but saw defender Sébastien Squillaci replaced at half-time with a strained thigh muscle. The French international is struggling to be fit to face Deportivo, although Italian goalkeeper Flavio Roma should be available again.

'Give our all'
Argentinian midfield player Lucas Bernardi and Dayo Oshadogan are included in Deschamps' squad having resumed training after injury, but Souleymane Camara and Armand Lescure remain out of contention. Greek international midfield player Andreas Zikos is in no doubt of the size of the task that awaits, saying: "We're going to have to give everything to win, teams are always more dangerous when they play without pressure. Depor won't have forgotten last year's match [when Monaco won 8-3 in France], and the concentration and solidity in our team is going to be key to our success."

Without a goal
Depor are yet to score in five attempts in Group A, and coach Javier Irureta is likely to opt to rest some key players, with Uruguayan Gustavo Munúa set to play in goal and Héctor Berenguel and Pablo Amo in line for defensive roles. The Galicians are also without César Martín after the central defender picked up his third yellow card of the competition in Athens on Matchday 5, although Jorge Andrade is available again after his ban.

'Prestige and pride'
Irureta insists his side will still be motivated to collect three points, saying: "We have to beat Monaco for the sake of prestige and pride. There is money at stake too. It isn't normal for us not to have won any of our five games so far. We need to end this run and finish off with a win to please our fans."

Last updated: 08/12/04 10.40CET