“In Ligue 1, the Brazilian player has some problems at the beginning,” says Caio Henrique

Monaco is back. While we thought the rock club was a bit lost after being eliminated from the Europa League, here he is once again dreaming of qualifying for the Champions League. With a favorable program, Philippe Clément’s men still have a chance of finishing on the podium in Ligue 1 and, even better, 2nd place. Among the strong men of the Monegasque workforce we find Caio Henrique. With 31 starts, two goals and seven assists, the Brazilian proves that his adaptation to French football is over. For 20 minuteshe looks back on the form of his team and the League of Talents.

What is your analysis of this good period for AS Monaco? The key moment is the victory over PSG?

Yes. Before the match against PSG it was very complicated. The results came only after this disappointing elimination from the Europa League. The match against Paris gave us the confidence we needed. After this game we managed to follow up and score important points. We have an unbeaten run of six games [huit, en réalité] and we’ll try to keep it that way.

Did anything happen after the elimination from the Europa League?

We’ve lost some confidence. It was an important game for us. We expected a lot from us in the Europa League, but we were able to react quickly. It was important because at that point we were no longer in the fight for entry into European competitions.

What do you like about what ASM is doing right now from a gaming standpoint?

We managed to do what the game requires, to adapt to different situations. There are games where we know we won’t have much on the ball, so we’re defending lower, trying to take advantage of the counterattack. We were very smart on this aspect. And then we are lucky to have confident players who are very free to play on their qualities.

There is also a lot of speed in the substitution, we saw it a lot against Saint-Etienne…

(he cuts) Absolutely, that’s what the coach asks us. He always tells us to get the ball back as soon as we lose it. And when you get it back, you have to move fast forward to take advantage of the moment when the opponent is out of balance due to the loss of the ball. In general, the opponents are out of their camp and their lines are open at these times. And that’s where we try to put them. We can get on the field in two or three ball contacts and we have been able to do that well in recent games. In addition, we are very realistic for the goal.

Speaking of your coach Philippe Clément, how does he make you work? What are his methods?

The workouts are pretty good with a lot of intensity. But he also gives us a lot of freedom in the way we play. He asks us to take risks and now it is really something that we have acquired.

What does he personally expect from you?

He asks me in the defensive part to pressure the opponent, and in the offensive part he wants me to take risks. He emphasizes that we have the qualities to be daring and that at certain moments I have to take more risks. We feel at ease.

This is advice that is correct. Because you’re training, we feel like sometimes you like to participate in the game and sometimes temporize and play like an eccentric leader, while sometimes you need to overrun and center. Is that the kind of aspect you’re working on?

In general, being a midfielder for a long time still helps me a lot. Today, being a fullback requires qualities in the midfield, such as a good long game. I have provided several assists thanks to this aspect of my game which I have developed as a midfielder. And because I’ve always played on the left, even when I was a midfielder, it makes my job easier. So it is mainly an aspect that helps me in my position on the defense side.

Left leg – Daniel Vaquero/SIPA

What is the difference between playing as a fullback in Brazil and in Ligue 1?

Especially the intensity. In Ligue 1, attackers are very fast and physically strong. In Brazil they are more technical players, physically less compact. In Ligue 1 you have to be constantly vigilant, because our opponents are always looking for the empty space behind us. So we have to constantly observe and react.

Do we think twice before going too high when we are lateral in L1?

Precisely. In France you need to know how to choose the right time to drive. The attackers are very fast, if you go up all the time they will punish you in the spaces because they know how to exploit them very well. So if you’re careless, you could easily cost your team a goal.

Many Brazilians have succeeded in Ligue 1, but others have struggled as well. What do you think is the degree of compatibility between the Brazilian player and French football?

The Brazilian player must try to understand the game as quickly as possible in order to adapt. It’s a completely separate championship. For example, if you take the Spanish Championship, it is more technical, Italy, more defensive. It’s more physical here, especially if you’re going to play against a team that defends 90 minutes and only counterattacks with fast forwards.

You don’t have much time to think and control the ball. The Brazilian player has some problems with that in the beginning. In Brazil you have a lot of space, you have control and you have two or three seconds to make your pass. Not here. You don’t have space and that’s why you have to decide faster.

The first touch is a bit intimidating in French football. You immediately know that there is a player behind you ready to eat you.

That’s completely right. And then the referees here whistle fewer mistakes on certain contacts. So you have to be careful to get out of difficult areas very quickly. Peek, check, pass, because there is always someone trying to steal the ball from you. Many teams also base their game on that: steal the ball quickly, counterattack and try to score. This pragmatism is another difference from Brazilian football.

It’s hard to talk about Brazilian football without talking about Neymar. You were educated at Santos even though you were younger. How did you know him then?

We knew him through futsal, because he was already very well known in the region, even though we were four or five years apart. Then he went with the Santos main team and we always stayed in the stadium to watch the games. I followed his debut a lot at the time. It’s cool for the Brazilians to play against him because he’s our reference, he’s the best Brazilian player out there.

Did you tell him about Santos’ time before playing against him in L1?

No, not at all, since we’ve been apart for four or five years, we didn’t get to know each other before. But I could finally talk to him a little bit about the last matches we played against Paris, he gave me his shirt. It’s a good memory.

Is there solidarity between players trained at Santos?

I don’t even know if he knows I started at Santos too (laughs)! But there is real solidarity between Brazilians in L1. Ney is a reference for us, so it’s fun to play against him, just as it is fun to play against the other great players of Paris Saint-Germain.

Just because you are talking about the other PSG players, what is it like as a defender to stuff Mbappe?

Roh… It’s hard! But actually all. The front three, four are fast and smart. It’s complicated, if you’re not careful in such matches, that’s the penalty. You have no room for error, otherwise the ball will end up at the feet of one of those players who can bend the game towards you in one move.

HR issue. What are your ambitions for the future?

I am quiet here in Monaco. It’s a big club in France that opened its doors to me at a time when I needed playing time. A city with a good climate and more (smiles), and a very good atmosphere for the family. The issue of the cold is not addressed here compared to other places in France. It helps to work. My ambition is to help Monaco rediscover Europe. And it is certain that if I do well in Monaco, I will have a chance at the Selecao.

Do you think you are being observed by the Brazilian staff here, in Monaco and in L1?

Secure. Many players who play in L1 have had opportunities in the roster. Paqueta, Gerson, Bruno Guimarães when he was in Lyon. So if I do my job well here, I might one day get a chance too.