PSG present new Monaco boss Moreno with toughest possible start
Moreno’s first league game in charge comes on Sunday away to a Paris Saint-Germain side in ominous form, and the two teams will meet again three days later in a rearranged fixture.
The new Monaco coach was appointed at the end of December on a contract until June 2022 after Leonardo Jardim was sacked for the second time in 15 months.
It was a surprise move for a man who has never managed a club at the top level and whose short spell as Spain coach ended in November when he was forced to make way for the returning Luis Enrique.
“I have been coaching for 28 years. My dream has always been to be number one. For me, what happened over the last few weeks is in the past,” said Moreno, formerly Luis Enrique’s assistant at Roma, Celta Vigo and Barcelona as well as Spain, at his unveiling.
“Not much is going to change for me. In the nine years, I spent working as an assistant in professional clubs, I was always part of the decision-making process with top-level teams. The only difference is that the visible face was someone else.”
Moreno’s first game with his new team was a 2-1 French Cup victory over Reims, an ideal start after the bitter manner of his departure from Spain.
He had been promoted to the role of number one when Luis Enrique stepped down to take care of his daughter, Xana, who died in August of cancer.
Moreno, who oversaw Spain’s qualification for Euro 2020, had initially indicated he would step down if his old friend wanted to return, but after failing to do so he was branded as “disloyal” by Luis Enrique.
With that episode now behind him, Moreno — who worked in a department store and a bank before moving into coaching — is eager to seize this chance with a team whose aim is to secure Champions League qualification.
Jardim was sacked with Monaco seventh in Ligue 1, despite his last game being a 5-1 demolition of Lille, their sixth straight home league win.
The 2017 champions have been playing catch-up ever since failing to win any of their opening six matches this season, but only PSG and Marseille have collected more points since then.
However, this is not a great time to be facing PSG, who are seven points clear at the top and have won their last eight games, scoring 34 goals in the process.
One to watch: Moussa Dembele
There is pressure on Dembele to deliver for Lyon in the second half of the season with the under-performing side having recently lost Memphis Depay and Jeff Reine-Adelaide to serious knee injuries.
The 23-year-old former Celtic player scored his 13th goal of the season in Lyon’s League Cup quarter-final win over Brest in midweek.
He is reportedly the subject of interest from Premier League clubs with Chelsea the latest linked to a January bid for the player, but Lyon have already publicly stated that Dembele is not for sale.
Now they need the forward to fire them up the table, starting with Saturday’s trip to Bordeaux.
56 – The combined goals tally this season of PSG’s ‘Fantastic Four’ attack, comprised of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Angel Di Maria and Mauro Icardi. The latter netted a hat-trick against Saint-Etienne in the League Cup in midweek.
10 – The number of consecutive defeats in all competitions suffered by Ligue 1’s bottom club, Toulouse.
5 – Rennes have won their last five league matches going into Friday’s meeting with Marseille.
Fixtures (times GMT)
Rennes v Marseille (1945)
Bordeaux v Lyon (1630), Amiens v Montpellier, Angers v Nice, Metz v Strasbourg, Nimes v Reims, Toulouse v Brest (all 1900)
Saint-Etienne v Nantes (1400), Dijon v Lille (1600), Paris Saint-Germain v Monaco (2000)
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