Monaco vs Montpellier
Monaco, who won most recently in a convincing win over Lille with a 4:0 score-line, will be the home side against Montpellier, who achieved a plucky result in a 0:0 draw against league leaders Paris Saint-Germain last weekend.
Last season AS Monaco won 6-2 at home against Montpellier and a similar result would put pressure on league leaders PSG.
Radamel Falcao is on fire with eleven goals in seven games so far this season. He scored against Montpellier in the fixture at home last season (6-2).
Monaco strolled to a 4:0 victory over Lille last weekend to keep the pressure on league leaders Paris Saint-Germain. That being said, Monaco were simply clinical more than anything, with the four goals scored coming from most of their chances. The first came after twenty-four minutes when summer signing Stevan Jovetic was gifted the ball from the Lille defense, then proceeded to touch the ball to the side of his closest defender and curl the ball into the corner for his first goal in a red and white shirt. On the thirty-eighth minute, Rachid Ghazal also got his first goal for his new club after teammate Almama Toure put the ball on a plate for the Algerian forward to finish.
The French champions were cruising and began the second half like how they ended the first with another goal three minutes into the second half to further impose their domination. The goal came after winger Rony Lopes, who again impressed with a strong performance in his previous appearance, left a Lille defender for dead with some quick skillful dribbling and ran towards goal. The former Manchester City player then had a pop at goal but his shot was saved, thankfully for Monaco Radamel Falcao was on hand to head in the rebound. A fourth was later added through Falcao again when he once again converted from the penalty spot; his eleventh goal which is the best total record after seven Ligue 1 games for forty years.
Overall it was a solid performance, but it should be noted that this was against a Lille side who have looked awful in almost all of their matches this season so far. The main positive will be, again, how clinical this Monaco side was, and with Falcao not looking like he’s going to stop scoring they have every chance to retain their league title with a faltering rival at the top off the table. The win now takes Monaco within a point of league leaders PSG and with trouble in paradise over in Paris, the current French champions will fancy their chances to catch up.
That being said, Monaco has been prone to the odd setback recently, and their 4:0 loss to Nice can be sited as a shocking performance as can their last match at home to Porto when they lost 3:0. The fear will be that a sense of unease will run through the Monaco team, knowing that a disaster performance is only around the corner; and with Lyon away only a couple of weeks away that catastrophe could be waiting for them around the next turning.
Manager Leonardo Jardim will be without keeper Loic Badiashile (shoulder) and left-back Julien Serrano (ankle) through injury, while winger Gabriel Boschilia is still not fit for this match.
Montpellier can be proud of their performance against a top side in Paris Saint-Germain after they limited their opposition to a 0:0 draw at home. Although Montpellier didn’t have many of the chances, their defense of five proved to be a large obstacle for PSG, with the league leaders’ Mbappé having most of the opportunities in Neymar’s absence. One chance came for Mbappéas he cut in and blasted the ball towards goal, but it was well-parried by goalkeeper Alphonse Areola who was reliable between the sticks on the night. The Frenchman also had another chance but couldn’t find his feet in the box after he came under heavy pressure in the box from the resilient Montpellier defense.
Despite a strong defensive performance, the game wasn’t without its nervy moments for Montpellier, with one moment seeing midfielder EllyesSkhiri passing straight to PSG’s Edinson Cavani, and some further fast-moving passing led to Mbappé again taking the ball and attempting to curl the ball around the keeper, but was denied after failing to find the right finish. Another heart-in-mouths moment came towards the tail-end of the fixture when Pedro Mendes took Cavani out with a sliding tackle in the box, getting both the ball and the man. Although, it must be said that Montpellier did have a great chance to get the winner when Casimir Ninga found his way through the PSG defense and passed it across goal towards teammate Jerome Roussillon, but the pass was agonizingly over-hit and retrieved by the opposition’s keeper.
Although Montpellier will be ecstatic with a draw in arguably their toughest fixture of the season, they will be even happier with their point which has meant that they have maintained their 12th place position. The result came from some brave tactics, playing five at the back with obvious emphasis on strong defense and playing on the counter when possible, which to be honest was not too often. Overall, it was a wonderful team performance and one that manager Michel Der Zakarian can be proud of and should be given credit for.
That being said, zero goals now mean that Montpellier has scored just four goals in their first seven games. A worrying record that only further highlights the losses of Ryad Boudebouz and Steve Mounié, who collectively scored 25 league goals last season. Perhaps this will have to be addressed in the January transfer window.