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Ranieri: Vannes scalp to kick-start Monaco season

The club from the principality ended 2013 in poor fashion, losing 2-1 in front of their home fans to Valenciennes, which saw Paris Saint-Germain gain a three-point lead in Ligue 1.

But after seeing Monaco return from their two-week winter break with a 3-2 triumph over Vannes, who sit bottom of France's third tier of football, Ranieri said his players are ready for Friday's trip to Montpellier.

"I think the cup game against Vannes was good for us because it allowed the team to wake up everything," the 62-year-old Italian said.

"I thought it would be a tough game, because it's normal when you go away to play against a smaller team, they will play better.

"They will go in with the intention of causing a shock and will play with heart.

"For us it was important to qualify and also to wake up everyone, because it's not easy after the holidays to start the season once more immediately."

Ranieri said the clash with Montpellier, who sit just outside the relegation zone in Ligue 1, will be critical to Monaco's chances of winning the league title.

With PSG set to travel to bottom-placed Ajaccio on Saturday, Ranieri knows Monaco cannot afford to give the reigning champions a bigger lead.

"The game against Montpellier this Friday will be a very important one for the club," the veteran coach said.

"We finished 2013 with no form at all and it was a bad way to end a great year for us. So it is important we find form early on in the New Year."