Founded in 1919, Monaco returned to France’s premier division in 2013 following two years in the Ligue 2 wilderness, and ended their first campaign back in the big time as runners-up to PSG.
Nicknamed Les Rouge et Blanc for their traditional red and white kit, the club have enjoyed a successful history, winning seven top flight titles, five Coupe de France trophies and one Coupe de la Ligue.
Monaco’s best run in the Champions League saw them reach the final back in 2004 where they were defeated 3-0 by Portuguese outfit Porto.
Since 1985, Monaco have played their home matches at the 18,523 seater Stade Louis II, a ground which is located in the Fontvieille district of the principality.
From 1998 to 2012, the venue staged the annual UEFA Super Cup, a match contested between the winners of the Champions League and the UEFA Cup/Europa League.
The stadium, named after former Prince of Monaco Louis II, is also frequently used for track and field events, formerly hosting the IAAF World Athletics Final which was discontinued six years ago.
Monaco are currently under the tutelage of Leonardo Jardim.
Even though he played football at an amateur level during his youth, the 40-year-old, who was born in Venezuela before returning to Portugal soon after, did not make the step up to a professional career, choosing instead to go down the coaching route.
Jardim enlisted himself at the University of Madeira, where he studied physical education, before then becoming the youngest Portuguese coach to obtain a UEFA A licence at the age of 24.
In 2001, he made his first foray into the management sphere, acting as assistant coach at local outfit Camacha, before then taking the reins as head boss two years later.
During his fruitful spell in charge of the Maderia-based club, Jardim caught the eye of Chaves in 2008, with whom he masterminded a rise to the Segunda Liga all in the space of 18 months.
Beira-Mar came calling for his services the following year and he was able to achieve another promotion, this time to Portugal’s top flight. Even after preserving their status at the culmination of the 2010/11 campaign, Jardim stepped down and immediately resurfaced at Braga.
Despite guiding Os Arcebispos to the UEFA Europa League round of 16 and a third-placed finish in the Primeira Liga, helped by a record-breaking run of 13 league victories on the spin at the turn of the year, he left in the summer of 2012.
Jardim wasn’t out of management long, almost immediately signing a two-year contract with European giants Olympiacos. However, even with a ten-point lead at the summit of the Greek Super League, he was dismissed in January 2013.
Another stint in Portugal’s top division followed, as the tactician led Sporting to second position in the domestic standings before he left for Monaco last summer, replacing former Bianconeri boss Claudio Ranieri at the helm.
Jardim’s playing style centres around a high-pressing game when his troops don’t have the ball, before then switching to wing play and an emphasis on ‘quality passing’ once his side regain possession.
Experienced midfielder Jeremy Toulalan joined Monaco in 2013 following a two-year stint with La Liga outfit Malaga.
The 31-year-old, who can also operate in defence, began his professional career with hometown club Nantes with whom he made his debut in March 2002.
Four years and a UNFP Ligue 1 Player of the Year award later, he left for Lyon on a long-term contract, winning back-to-back league titles, one Coupe de France and two Trophée des champions at the Stade de Gerland.
Ahead of his move to Spain, Toulalan enjoyed a four-year stint with the France national side, featuring at both Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, before bringing the curtain down on his international career at the end of Les Bleus’ involvement in South Africa.
Following 24 months in La Liga, the 6ft tough tackler was signed by Ranieri among a raft of new acquisitions as Les Rouges et Blancs looked to establish themselves as Ligue 1 mainstays.
His effective passing, good technique and unassuming character rendered him a firm fans’ favourite in his maiden campaign, with new boss Jardim appointing him as club skipper at the start of the 2014/15 term.
Toulalan, who recently inked a new deal that will tie his future down until 2017, missed last week’s first leg due to a hamstring injury he sustained in Monaco’s 3-0 triumph over Caen on 10 April.
Monaco currently sit third in Ligue 1, six points off Lyon who are top in the domestic standings.
With five games of the season to play, Les Rouge et Blanc occupy the third and final Champions League spot, and hold a two-point advantage over nearest challengers Marseille.
This weekend’s league contest saw Jardim’s troops held to a 1-1 draw by midtable Rennes at the Stade Louis II. Twenty-year-old midfielder Bernardo Silva had given the hosts a slender half-time lead, only for Habib Habibou to equalise three minutes from time.