Claudio Ranieri wary of "direct rival" Saint-Etienne

Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri during his team's Ligue 1 match against Toulouse on August 23, 2013
© AFP
Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri describes Saint Etienne as a "direct rival" for the top positions in Ligue 1 ahead of their clash tomorrow afternoon.

Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri has insisted that his side will need to be on top form to beat Saint-Etienne this weekend, describing Les Verts as a "direct rival" for the Ligue 1 title.

Ranieri's side have made an instant impact on their return to the French top flight, amassing 18 points from their first eight league games in an unbeaten start to the campaign.

Ahead of tomorrow's clash with Saint-Etienne, the Italian has warned his star-studded squad that only a complete performance in all areas will be good enough to keep pace with Paris-Saint Germain.

He told reporters at a pre-match press conference: "This St Etienne side play good football and have very technical players. We will have to stay very organised and compact.

"St Etienne are a direct rival for us. I think they will be fighting for the leading positions right to the end of the season.

"We need to find the balance between defence and attack and that means total concentration for the full 90 minutes."

Monaco will be without experienced midfielder Jeremy Toulalan tomorrow afternoon, while in-form striker Emmanuel Riviere faces a late fitness test.

Monaco's Italian coach Claudio Ranieri looks on before the kick of a French L1 football match between Bordeaux and Monaco on August 10, 2013
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Paris Saint-GermainPSG330011299
2AS MonacoMonaco33008359
3Saint-EtienneSt Etienne33005059
4Lyon32109457
5Marseille32105147
6Bordeaux31207525
7Angers31205325
8Troyes31113304
9Montpellier HSCMontpellier31112204
10StrasbourgStrasbourg311145-14
11Nice31023303
12Caen31022203
13Lille310235-23
14GuingampGuingamp310236-33
15NantesNantes310214-33
16Toulouse310259-43
17Rennes302145-12
18Dijon301239-61
19Metz300316-50
20AmiensAmiens300307-70