Ranieri relishing Coupe battle

BY foxsports • September 25, 2012

Monaco boss Claudio Ranieri is looking forward to seeing his team pit their wits against Ligue 1 Valenciennes in the Coupe de la Ligue.

The principality club have made a flying start to the new season and seem well-placed to make a return to the top flight under the stewardship of experienced Italian Ranieri.

They hold a two-point lead at the top of Ligue 2 after eight games and cruised to a 4-0 win at Lens on Friday night.

And although Ranieri, who counts Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan and Juventus among his former clubs, is excited at taking on Valenciennes, currently ninth in the division above, he knows it will be a tough test for his players.

He said: "We know we are going to face a good team, because VA have made a strong start to the season.

"This match will be a physical, technical and psychological examination. We are going to be tested.

"I want to see how my team plays against a Ligue 1 side. We shall try to highlight our strengths, fight and be competitive."

Ranieri, nicknamed 'The Tinkerman' during his time at Chelsea for his willingness to chop and change his team, admits his hand may be forced on Wednesday.

"I was thinking of putting out my usual team but there are doubts over (Andreas) Wolf, (Ibrahima) Toure and (Yannick Ferreira) Carrasco. We shall see tomorrow," he added.

Monaco defender Andrea Raggi is relishing the chance to cause a cup upset.

He told the club's official website, www.asm-fc.com: "We respect all the teams but we will play without fear.

"We meet an opponent from Ligue 1 and it gives us the chance to see our level. It is a good test."

The fourth-round action kicks off on Tuesday night with an all-Ligue 1 clash between Rennes and Nancy. Also, third-tier side Metz visit top-flight Bastia while Ligue 2 sides Auxerre and Angers clash at the Stade de l'Abbe-Deschamps.

There are four all-Ligue 1 clashes on Wednesday, Brest v Nice, Reims v Troyes, Lorient v St Etienne and Sochaux v Evian.

In addition to Monaco, Arles and Caen, both from Ligue 2, will be seeking to claim the scalp of higher-ranked opponents.

Arles, relegated two seasons ago, host Ajaccio while Caen meet Toulouse.