MX23RW : Tuesday, April 13 23:00:13| >> :600:177394:177394:
Mar 8, 2021 at 8pm UK at Allianz Riviera

Saliba (75'), Nsoki (86')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Volland (29'), Aguilar (87')
Majecki (62')

Preview: Nice vs. Monaco - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Monday's Coupe de France clash between Nice and Monaco, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Two sides who endured contrasting fortunes in their most recent Ligue 1 outings gear up for a Coupe de France battle on Monday night as Nice welcome Monaco to the Allianz Riviera.

Adrian Ursea's men progressed to the round of 32 courtesy of a 3-1 triumph at Nimes, whereas Monaco scraped a 1-0 win at second-tier side Grenoble Foot 38.

Match preview

Nice manager Adrian Ursea pictured in February 2021© Reuters

Where would Nice be without Amine Gouiri? Manager Adrian Ursea certainly would not want to contemplate that scenario after the 21-year-old set Les Aiglons on their way to a crucial victory over Nimes in the top flight last Sunday.

Gouiri took just four minutes to find the back of the net and take his tally for the season to 15 in all competitions - 11 in Ligue 1 - and even though a resurgent Nimes levelled through Loick Landre's header, Alexis Claude-Maurice kept up his remarkable goalscoring record against Nimes with the winner in the 75th minute.

Following another hard-fought triumph at Rennes the week before, Nice have now won back-to-back matches in Ligue 1 for the first time since October, and while their defensive frailties continue to be exposed - they are without a clean sheet in six - all the signs are promising for Les Aiglons.

Nimes were also Nice's victims in the previous round of the Coupe de France as Ursea's side stormed to a 3-1 win over Les Crocodiles on February 10, with the now-injured Rony Lopes bagging a brace while Pierre Lees Melou also got in on the act, and they will be desperate to improve their Coupe de France fortunes after some underwhelming finishes in the tournament in recent years.

The three-time champions last lifted the crown in 1996-97 - since then their best finish has been a semi-final place in the 2010-11 campaign and they failed to progress past the third round five seasons in a row between 2014 and 2018, while Lyon sent them packing in the round of 16 last term.

Monaco manager Niko Kovac pictured in February 2021© Reuters

Most supporters expected Paris Saint-Germain to be the ones to end Monaco's unbeaten streak in 2021, but it was a lowly Strasbourg who dealt Les Monegasques' title hopes a huge blow with a hard-fought 1-0 triumph in midweek.

Neither Wissam Ben Yedder nor Kevin Volland were able to find their shooting boots on the night, and it was Aston Villa loanee Frederic Guilbert who proved to be the hero of the hour, as Niko Kovac's defence paid the price for backing off and allowing the right-back to power an effort into the far corner.

The result signalled the end of Monaco's 13-game unbeaten run across all competitions as they lost for the first time since December 16, and while Les Monegasques are still very much in the title conversation, they now find themselves seven points adrift of leaders Lille after 28 matches.

A much-changed Monaco outfit struggled to impose themselves on the game against Grenoble in last month's cup fixture, but a 36th-minute winner from Stevan Jovetic ended up proving decisive on the day as Monaco aspire to lift the Coupe de France crown for the first time since 2010, although they have been knocked out at this stage twice in the past three seasons.

Monaco overcame Nice 2-1 earlier in the campaign, and the two sides last met in the Coupe de France in the 2013-14 last 16, where an extra-time winner from Dimitar Berbatov sent Les Monegasques through.

Nice Coupe de France form:
  • W

Nice form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W

Monaco Coupe de France form:
  • W

Monaco form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • L

Team News

Nice's Pierre Lees-Melou celebrates with teammates after scoring against AS Monaco on November 8, 2020© Reuters

Nice already have Dante and Jeff Reine-Adelaide out for the season, and they were dealt a huge blow against Nimes with Hicham Boudaoui suffering a serious meniscus injury - one which will sideline him until May.

Lees Melou is therefore set for a swift recall to the engine room, while the hero of the last round - Rony Lopes - is not ready to return from his thigh injury just yet, but Kasper Dolberg appeared as a substitute last weekend and will be pushing for a start here.

Ursea can afford to go strong but may be tempted to hand opportunities to some fringe players in the cup, with Khephren Thuram and Dan Ndoye among those hoping to be trusted from the off.

Monaco have very little to worry about on the injury front by comparison, with the attacking trio of Gelson Martins, Willem Geubbels and Pietro Pellegri the only concerns for Kovac.

Krepin Diatta will serve a suspension in next weekend's top-of-the-table clash with Lille so is likely to start here, while the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Axel Disasi and maybe even Vito Mannone could feature from the first whistle as well.

Kovac has experimented with a three-man defence in recent weeks but should revert to a four after a disappointing showing at Strasbourg, while the prolific duo of Ben Yedder and Volland could be broken up as Jovetic aims to pick up where he left off in the cup.

Nice possible starting lineup:
Benitez; Lotomba, Saliba, Todibo, Nsoki; Thuram; Atal, Lees Melou, Claude-Maurice, Gouiri; Dolberg

Monaco possible starting lineup:
Mannone; Sidibe, Maripan, Disasi, Ballo-Toure; Golovin, Fabregas, Fofana, Diop; Ben Yedder, Jovetic

SM words green background

We say: Nice 1-2 Monaco

Monaco will undoubtedly have one eye on their potentially season-defining showdown with Lille next weekend, but a piece of silverware in the form of the Coupe de France would be a welcome alternative if their title charge fails to bear fruit. Nice are on the right track and can trouble a volatile Monegasques backline, but Kovac will be desperate to warm up for the visit of the league leaders with a win, so we are expecting the visitors to progress to the last 16.

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