ASM preview: “Our preparation was hard, but necessary”

AS Monaco manager Philippe Clement fronted the press ahead of his team’s game against PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday, saying he believes that his side have prepared well for the opening encounter.

Monaco have played seven pre-season matches and returned earlier to training than their Ligue 1 competitors with the early start in mind. “All the players who have been involved in the preparation with us are in good physical shape,” began Clement. “It was difficult but necessary to increase the rhythm with the matches ahead.”

Despite two losses in their final two pre-season friendlies, against FC Porto and Southampton, Clement isn’t concerned about any lack of form or confidence going into the Champions League play-off tie. “It was our plan to finish pre-season with three high-intensity matches against teams of a higher level, in order to allow us to confront the conditions that we will face in European competition,” he said.

Monaco led at half-time in their final match against Southampton, before the Premier League side fought back. Clement attributes that largely to the lack of “automatisms” in the side, which will naturally take time to mature.

Despite the overwhelming importance of Tuesday’s match, Clement is not reluctant to start new signings such as Takumi Minamino or Breel Embolo. He said, “Naturally we need automatisms, but we only get automatisms by giving new signings game time, either from the start or off the bench. It’s always about finding the right balance in the first two to three months.”

The Principality side know PSV well having faced them twice in the Europa League last season. In those ties, Monaco prevailed, beating the Eredivisie side away before drawing at home. Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s men also come into the two-legged tie high on confidence having beaten Dutch champions Ajax 5-3 in the Dutch Super Cup over the weekend.

“When I saw their match at the weekend, I have to say that they really did a good job against Ajax,” said Clement. “We have seen their pre-season matches and they have a clear structure. They are a high-performing team in transition phases because they play to win matches and therefore attack with pace. They are an opposition of very high quality.”

For the match, Monaco will be without Myron Boadu who has sustained a foot injury, whilst Benoît Badiashile is also a major doubt. Given the club’s incredibly packed fixture list, it seems unlikely that the French youth international will be used from the start if at all. However, despite that fixture list, which includes six of last season’s top eight in the first seven fixtures, Clement, and his players are only focused on their upcoming match.

He told Monaco Life, “I’m only thinking about Tuesday’s match. We will see how the players are after the match…I can’t say anything now about the match against Strasbourg. It’s the same thing after Strasbourg, we’ll look at each player’s individual reaction ahead of the second match against PSV, and then after that we’ll take it match by match. The players should also just be focused on each match as it comes and give everything in the minutes that they spend on the pitch, that goes for the starters and for the substitutes and that’s our strength – each player is 100% committed in each action.”

Clement also interestingly revealed to Monaco Life that his players would be fitted with GPS tracking systems in matches this season “in order to have good physical results and to look at the recovery after the match.”

For now, however, all focus is on atoning for last year’s errors and earning a place in the Champion’s League group stages. Although it will be a tall order to qualify given the quality of opposition that the Principality side will face, Monaco defender Axel Disasi believes that leaning on last season’s negative experience will only be advantageous. “We want to lean on our experience from last season to make amends and to progress in the most beautiful European competition. We always want to move forward and achieve the club’s objectives,” said Disasi.

In this “sprint within a marathon” there is no room for slip-ups and the pressure is on from the off. The margins are fine and Monaco’s experience in this pressure-cooker environment could yet prove pivotal. 



Photo by Monaco Life





EC President Ursula von der Leyen welcomes Monaco diplomat

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has accepted new Head of Mission of the Principality of Monaco to the European Union, Frédéric Labarrere.

The Monaco government revealed on Monday 1st August that Frédéric Labarrere, who is also Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, had presented his Letters of Credence to Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, in Brussels.

“During the very cordial meeting which followed the official ceremony, the Ambassador and the President of the European Commission were able to discuss the international geopolitical situation, the sanctions implemented by the European Union, as well as the pandemic management,” said the government in a statement.

The pair “also spoke of the positive momentum and the constructive spirit currently prevailing in the context of the negotiations for the signing of an Association Agreement.”

According to the government, the main aim of the Association Agreement being negotiated with the EU is to enable Monaco and all of the country’s economic stakeholders to be a part of the European internal market, including the removal of obstacles which may currently impede exports from Monaco to EU member states.

The Agreement would also provide the benefit of a lasting legal and political framework for relations between Monaco, the EU, and EU member states.



Photo source: European Commission




Prince’s Foundation now accepting crypto donations

The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation has launched a new app built on the DigitalBits Blockchain, making it easier for people to donate to the organisation’s many environmental causes as well as purchase tickets for live events.

People are creatures of convenience. If something isn’t fast and easy in this supercharged world, often it gets left behind, even if it is something truly important.

The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation (FPA2) understands this and as a result has launched an app allowing people with big hearts but little time to purchase NFT tickets to selected Foundation events, as well as to make contributions to the association’s ocean conservation, sustainable development and species protection projects.

The app, built on the DigitalBits blockchain, is eco-friendly when compared to others of its kind. The FPA2 application and embedded crypto wallet can be used during events, allowing attendees to register and enable the use of DigitalBits cryptocurrency to make donations. The app was unveiled at the recent Monaco Crypto Summit.

A press conference to announce the launch was hosted at the Grimaldi Forum with Olivier Wenden, Vice President of the FPA2,  and Prince Albert in attendance.

Digital Bits is a “layer-one blockchain protocol” that focuses on speed, security and cost-savings. Practically anything can be tokenised, including NFT’s created by brands, celebrities, artists and sport’s organisations.

DigitalBits was founded in 2017 by Al Burgio, who says, “I originally launched DigitalBits with the vision of evolving the way consumers and brands engaged and used legacy digital assets. It was evident that blockchain had the power to change the way we thought about and used existing and new forms of consumer digital assets. Things have grown significantly since then, including the DigitalBits ecosystem. Branded cryptocurrencies, branded stablecoins, NFTs and more, are all coming to DigitalBits. As technology evolves, we will see more engaging experiences with consumer digital assets than ever before.”

DigitalBits Blockchain recently signed on David Beckham as its global ambassador.


Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash




MonaBike takes its e-bike stations to Beausoleil

A total of three new MonaBike stations will be installed in Beausoleil, giving residents of Monaco’s close neighbour a chance to take advantage of this environmentally friendly option for getting around town.

MonaBike, the Principality’s electric bicycle success story, has now crossed borders with the installation and planned installation of three new e-bike terminals in Beausoleil.

The Mayor of Beausoleil, Gérard Spinelli, signed the agreement on 15th July with Roland de Rechniewski, Managing Director of the Compagnie des Autobus de Monaco, who is the co-collaborator on the MonaBike venture alongside the government of Monaco.

One station is already operational and two are currently in the process of being put in. The move makes good sense as many Beausoleil residents make their livings working for Monaco-based companies. Not only is cycling a faster option than walking, it also is cleaner than climbing into the car.

When completed, there will be 39 red and white MonaBikes at the disposal of customers at the already-operational Boulevard de la Republique station, with one more at Place du Commandant Raynal on Avenue de Verdun and another at the Victor Hugo car park, on Avenue Paul Doumer soon to be ready.

MonaBike subscribers will be able to start using the Beausoleil-based e-bikes from the start of the school year in early September, adding to the already 300 bikes spread over 35 stations in Monaco.

The system is simple to use with either a credit card for occasional users, or by downloading the app for those who use the e-bike network more regularly.

In addition to the MonaBike stations, the Principality has installed several escalators between the two towns to make commuting easier than ever for those who still choose to use two legs over two wheels.


Photo source: MonaBike




Great British victory for Venturi

Monaco’s ROKiT Venturi Racing rounded off a difficult weekend in the English capital with a win in Sunday’s ePrix, however Edoardo Mortara now finds himself cut adrift in the championship battle.

It is what preceded Sunday’s win in London that is of concern to ROKiT Venturi and what leaves them with ground to make up in the Formula E constructors’ standings. The team have Lucas Di Grassi to thank for his contribution, which keeps them in the running.

Swiss driver Mortara, who has looked one of the favourites for the title, now finds himself 41 points off championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne with just two rounds remaining. The Venturi driver failed to score a point over the race weekend, leaving him with a lot of work to do in Seoul.

Having sustained damage on the first lap of Saturday’s race, Mortara was forced into the pits, and from there he couldn’t recover. However, Venturi did salvage a handful of consolation points thanks to a stellar drive from Di Grassi, who fought from the back of the grid to finish ninth.

Mortara’s miserable weekend continued on Sunday. Having qualified 17th, he couldn’t fight through the field to reach a point-scoring position. Di Grassi continued to impress, however, and qualified second for the race.

The Brazilian controlled the race from start to finish to take his first victory for Venturi and the 13th of his Formula E career. Unfortunately, it is too late for him to mount a title charge, but the points haul keeps his team in contention for the constructors title.

Team principal Jérôme D’Ambrosio was in a bullish mood post-race: “It was a fantastic race today (Sunday) – awesome drives in qualifying and the race from Lucas to achieve his first, and well deserved, win for the team. Unfortunately, it didn’t go Edo’s way today, but that’s Formula E and I have no doubt that he will come back fighting in Seoul. Most of all though, I am incredibly proud of the team – yesterday was a very difficult day and today we showed once again what we’re made of. We won’t stop fighting until it’s over.”

Mortara and Venturi go into the final weekend in mid-August with everything still to fight for, even if they face an uphill battle.




Photo credit: Sam Bagnall / LAT Images, source: ROKiT Venturi Racing