by Romano Lupi
MONACO. At last, the Monaco team has once again become an established reality in the football scenario of the old continent, as it happened a dozen years ago. The red and white are partecipating for the third consecutive time to the European Cups, and are going to book their place in the round of 16 of the Champions League, in a home game against Tottenham, to be played at the “Louis II” on November 22. The team is wonderfully trained by the excellent Portuguese Leonardo Jardim, in its third consecutive season as coach of the Monaco FC. For now the team is first and undefeated in Group E of the Champions League, and it is good to dream of reliving the glories of two seasons ago, when the footballers arrived at the Quarter-finals of the Europe’s Premier Club competition and were eliminated by Juventus after challenging two other strong teams. Even the idea of becoming, after sixteen years, champions of France, is something that tickles the imagination of the white and red Club and their fans.
Until last season, the dominance of Paris St. Germain left no hope in this way, but now Captain Andrea Raggi and colleagues are second along with Paris St. Germain, just three points behind the leading Nice, in a League 1 very uncertain, after the PSG dominance in the last four French championships. Of course, playing on both fronts will not be easy. Even if in the long run, PSG, qualified well in advance to the Round of Champions League, remains the best equipped team to be first in League 1. For the tiny state that is reacting to the European crisis with dozens of projects, of which three really great, as the restyling of the Place du Casino of Richard Rogers, Norman Foster’ s new Yacht Club and the Renzo Piano’s enlargement, the image’s return is crucial. And football in the Principality is making a very good job, with sports scores qualifying Monaco FC to international levels. The Champions League television appearances are very important, in a competition that has never been so rich. The prestige to participate with his own team, in addition to being a showcase for several months during the year, brings into the Monegasque club’ s treasuries a big portion of the TV’s royalties. This year, sport in Monaco is displaying a third event able to attract the crowds, in addition to the timeless Grand Prix of Formula 1 and the famous Monte-Carlo Rolex Tennis Masters. The Monaco FC game on November 22 could leave fans queuing out of the “Louis II” stadium, approved for only 18,523 seats. In short, while the two prestigious events occurring in April and May make “sold out” records for two weeks a year, the red and white job provides a more constant media coverage throughout the season.