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Ranieri focussed on semi-final

14 Apr 2014 17:17:00

Ranieri focussed on semi-final

Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri knows that the best way to respond to ongoing speculation about his future is to finish the season by winning silverware.

The principality club travel to Ligue 1 strugglers Guingamp on Wednesday in the semi-finals of the French Cup and are huge favourites to lift the trophy at the Stade de France next month with Paris Saint-Germain already out.

They are also second in Ligue 1, although a 10-point deficit to PSG with five games remaining means it is only a matter of time before the capital club win the title.

Ranieri has done very little wrong since taking charge at the Stade Louis II, leading them to promotion back to the top flight last season, and he has a year left to run on his contract.

However, that has not dampened speculation that the club's billionaire majority shareholder Dmitry Rybolovlev will seek to replace the Italian in the summer, with reports last week linking him with an approach for France great, and current Real Madrid assistant, Zinedine Zidane.

"I don't know if I'll be the coach of Monaco next season," said Ranieri. "But I want to win the French Cup and finish as close to PSG as possible. When the team wins, it's better for everyone."

He added: "I love football, I love my job and I am very serious about my work. But I acknowledge that it's very difficult to have a career like (Arsene) Wenger or (Alex) Ferguson with a club today."

Monaco, who have won the French Cup five times but not since 1991 when Wenger was the coach, will be without promising left-back Layvin Kurzawa due to injury.

His absence is a blow as Monaco attempt to handle the pressure that comes with being favourites against a Guingamp side who have lost their last four matches in Ligue 1.

"We are the big favourites to win the Cup, which is to be expected. The pressure will be on us," said Ranieri, although Guingamp will be looking to return to the final of a competition they won as a second-tier side in 2009.

On that occasion they stunned their Brittany neighbours Rennes at the Stade de France, and there is a possibility that the clubs could meet again in the final this season.

- Rennes out to end long wait -

Rennes, who have not won a major trophy since the 1971 French Cup, play second-tier Angers in the first semi-final on Tuesday at the Stade de la Route de Lorient.

The Bretons have had a difficult season under Philippe Montanier, who has found life tough since arriving last summer from Real Sociedad, where he was named coach of the year in La Liga.

His team lie 14th in the table, meaning they are at risk of finishing in their lowest position in more than a decade, so a lot is riding on Cup success.

"There is a lot at stake," said Montanier. "This club has had a rather strange relationship with the Cup. We can feel the weight of expectation.

"We need to focus on the game rather than what is at stake. We have gone through some difficult times but if we had been offered the chance at the start of the season to play a semi-final in our own stadium we would have taken it immediately."

Angers are bidding to reach the final for the first time since 1957, although their main aim this season is to win promotion to the top flight.

Fixtures (both 1900 GMT)

Tuesday

Rennes v Angers

Wednesday

Guingamp v Monaco


AFP

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