ASM preview: “We’ve given ourselves the right to dream”

AS Monaco midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni told the press on Wednesday that Monaco have given themselves “the right to dream” at the end of the season, whilst Philippe Clement struck a wary tone.

The press assembled in La Turbie on Wednesday for a pre-match press conference ahead of Friday’s trip to reigning champions LOSC Lille.

Having fought back from the brink after a disappointing March, Tchouaméni admitted that he had doubts about bouncing back to launch an assault on the Champions League places, but is grateful to be in the fight for the podium.

The Frenchman told Monaco Life, “Honestly, every season has its own story. If you had asked me after the defeat against Strasbourg if we would have won seven in a row, honestly, I wouldn’t have believed you. Now, we have given ourselves the right to dream. We have three games left, starting with an important match against Lille. Away from home, that will be a difficult match.”

That is the objective for Tchouaméni, who has often been linked with a move away from AS Monaco, but who would nonetheless like to play Champions League football with the Principality side next season.

“The elimination in the play-off round last year stuck in my throat. Playing Champions League football with Monaco isn’t something that would displease me.”

Only three “finals” stand between Monaco and Champions League football next season. They are only outside of the podium on goal difference, whilst the two teams ahead of them, Rennes and Marseille, must still play against each other. In all likelihood – although it isn’t completely guaranteed – Monaco will qualify should they win their remaining fixtures.

Clement, however, is wary of Friday’s opponents Lille, who despite losing 3-0 against Troyes in an ill-tempered match at the weekend, are nonetheless the reigning champions of France. “I’m not too fond of facing teams when they have just lost a match,” admitted Clement.

“They will want to show a reaction. Lille are also strong at home, where they have only lost three times all season… so I’m mistrustful of this opponent.”

Clement will likely be able to count on the same side that won 2-0 against Angers on Sunday. Monaco Life was present at training in La Turbie on Wednesday and can report that Ruben Aguilar, despite seeming to come off with a niggle over the weekend, did train with the group. Gelson Martins and Cesc Fabregas are still absent, and neither will make the trip to Lille.

Tchouaméni says that the recent seven-game run has given them the “right to dream”. It is now in Monaco’s hands to make that dream a reality.