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AS Monaco FC coach Didier Deschamps has said that his side must strike the right balance between attack and defence when they welcome PSV Eindhoven for the second leg of their first knockout round tie on Wednesday.
Two clear goals
The hosts must win by two clear goals to progress after Brazilian defender Alex gave PSV a 1-0 victory in the Netherlands two weeks ago - and Deschamps believes the key will be sensible approach play. "Our objective is clear," the 36-year-old said. "We know we have to score but we can't sacrifice everything to chase goals. It is just as important not to leave PSV spaces to exploit at the back."
Monaco home record
Deschamps certainly seems to have found a happy medium in the past, having won nine out of ten Champions League encounters at Monaco's Stade Louis II. One statistic Deschamps would love to disprove, however, says his team have only a 41 per cent chance of advancing as 1-0 first-leg losers, looking at records since the 1980/81 season.
And though Monaco managed to score against their opponents when they met in the group stage last year, PSV left the principality with a 1-1 draw that would suit them perfectly this time around.
The French club's scorer that night was Fernando Morientes, but although the Spaniard has since moved on, Deschamps recruited well last summer and one of his new additions, Ernesto Chevantón, is fit after an ankle injury which kept him out for almost two months.
The Uruguayan striker played 30 minutes of the goalless draw with FC Metz at the weekend, and Deschamps said: "He gives us different options up front with his pace and the way he drops deep. He is not totally match fit but he looks good."
Slump in form
Chevantón will probably start on the bench, though, meaning Javier Saviola and Emmanuel Adebayor spearheading the attack, while goalkeeper Flavio Roma should return from a thigh problem. The Italian has had to watch his team-mates' recent slump in form from the stands, with Monaco now lying fourth in Ligue 1 after failing to win their last four games.
Deschamps is expecting another tough encounter, having spoken glowingly of PSV's midfield. "They have great technique, speed on the wings and in the middle [Mark] van Bommel, Johann Vogel and Phillip Cocu will try and put a stranglehold on the game. We need to force them to make a few mistakes."
Another possible advantage for Guus Hiddink's men is their freshness. PSV's match with FC Groningen was called off on Saturday due to snow, and their last run-out was a convincing 6-1 win over SV Top Oss in the Dutch Cup last Thursday. Four points clear in the Eredivisie, the Eindhoven outfit are showing no signs of weakness at the moment.
"It is true Monaco have an excellent home record, so it is going to be difficult. But we made a reasonable start in the first game which helped a lot," said Hiddink. His task is eased by the return to fitness of John de Jong and Alex, who bruised his ankle a fortnight ago.
Then there is the more-than-encouraging form of winter signing Robert. The 24-year-old Brazilian scored a hat-trick against Top Oss and gives Hiddink another dimension up front, where Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink should start as a lone striker. Not that Hiddink's side will not be content to sit back. "We won't just be defending, that's not in our nature. This team has a very adventurous streak and they will try and cause Monaco problems," he said.
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