Plašil keen to perk up Monaco

Jaroslav Plašil is looking for a result at PSV Eindhoven to raise AS Monaco FC's spirits.

By Matthew Spiro

Czech midfield player Jaroslav Plašil is confident that AS Monaco FC will bounce back from their recent domestic disappointment by securing a good result against PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Champions League.

Nine points adrift
Monaco's hopes of winning an eighth French title took a major blow at the Stade Louis II on Friday when Olympique Lyonnais scored five minutes into added time to secure a 1-1 draw. The result left Monaco nine points adrift of the leaders, and has affected the mood in the camp. "It was so frustrating because we played well and deserved to win," Plašil told "We've been talking about it in training this weekend and we've not found it easy to turn our attentions to PSV."

Unbeaten run
Monaco's form has improved dramatically after an inconsistent start to the campaign, and they remain unbeaten in Ligue 1 and the Champions League since mid-November. "We're not going to let our heads drop," Plašil continued. "Drawing with Lyon is nothing to be ashamed of because they're a top side."

'PSV deserve respect'
Last season's Champions League finalists have no time to feel sorry for themselves and tonight's match at the Philips stadium represents an ideal opportunity to put Friday's events behind them. But Plašil knows they will need to be at their best to match PSV. "They're a very efficient team who are top of their domestic league and deserve respect," he said.

'A very offensive game'
The Czech international came on as a substitute when Monaco won 2-1 in Eindhoven during last season's group phase. And though the Dutch side have since lost the services of Arjen Robben, Mateja Kezman and Dennis Rommedahl, Plašil warned: "They're still a strong unit. They play a very offensive game with two wingers and two big, powerful frontmen. [Jefferson] Farfán, who is similar in style to Robben, plays on the left now and he looks very dangerous."

Frustrating start
Monaco have some dangerous players of their own. Among them is Plašil, who is currently enjoying his longest run in the side since he arrived in the principality in 2001. The playmaker endured a frustrating start to the season, missing three-and-a-half months through injury, but his return - and coach Didier Deschamps's decision to revert to a 4-4-2 - has coincided with Monaco's resurgence.

'I'm delighted'
"It's been difficult for me," the 23-year-old said. "I knew there was a lot of competition for places because the coach had brought in five new players, so the last thing I needed was to be injured. But I'm delighted to be getting a good run in the side now."

Wide role
Plašil, who made one appearance at UEFA EURO 2004™, has been playing on the left side of midfield, with Mohamed Kallon on the right and Emmanuel Adebayor partnering Javier Saviola in attack. "This system seems to give the team balance," Plašil said. "I enjoy playing on the left as it enables me to show my qualities both as a defender and an attacker. Last year I played on both flanks and sometimes as one of three central midfield players, so it's not a problem."

International recall
Technically outstanding, Plašil's touch and vision have given Monaco an extra dimension in recent weeks and he is hoping his good form will lead to an international recall. "I don't know if the Czech coach follows my progress at Monaco," he said. "But if I'm playing regularly at Monaco and gaining Champions League experience, it can only help my cause."