Match Coverage

Scouting the Opposition: AS Monaco, the high-flying Ligue 1 leaders with over 100 goals

Finishing second in their group, Manchester City found themselves in a last 16 draw with some of Europe’s elite clubs, so avoiding the likes of Juventus and Atletico Madrid may have brought a sigh of relief for most City fans. However, Leonardo Jardim’s Monaco side sit at the top of the French Ligue 1 following a stunning run of results, unbeaten and winning every game bar two since Christmas, one of them a credible draw away at PSG.

Many view the French top flight as a league populated with lesser ability teams, which it may well be, however Monaco will be keen to prove this wrong, as did their title rivals PSG who put four past Barcelona in Paris. The English side are the favourites with the bookies, but Monaco’s attacking style will be a menacing threat for City’s defence, which has been subject to much criticism this season from pundits and the general English media.

Preferred formation and lineup

(4-4-2)

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Jardim likes his side to adopt a very attacking, expansive game, with emphasis on getting the wingers on the ball and making the pitch seem as big as possible. The pace and trickery of Bernardo Silva and Thomas Lemar out wide creates space in the middle for the profilic Falcao to run in behind and split defences, supported by Valère Germain or Kylian Mbappé.

It would be fair to compare their offensive style of play with that of Manuel Pellegrini’s title-winning City side in 2013/14, approaching games with a ruthless attitude and aiming to outscore oppositions. This is telling, as the French league leaders have scored 76 goals in 26 Ligue 1 games this season so far.

If you are to believe the rumours, Manchester City are linked with what seems like the majority of the Monaco side, which surely says something about the individual abilities of a number of their players. They have an exceptional balance between youth and experience, with João Moutinho using his years of experience to pick passes, whilst Brazilian, Fabinho, has the energy in a deeper role to prevent counter-attacks.

Danger man

Radamel Falcao

Following failed loan stints at Manchester United and Chelsea, it seems the Colombian striker is back to the form that made him one of the most sought after strikers in world football, scoring 20 goals in all competitions this season. Falcao is a proven goalscorer, with a lethal record at River Plate, Porto and Atletico Madrid. It seems he thrives in a 4-4-2 system, with support from Germain or in-form Mbappé, who netted a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Metz recently. The City defence will have to be at their very best to stop Falcao on Tuesday.

Prediction

For me, it depends which City turn up. If the likes of David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne can dictate the play like they have in recent weeks, City will stand a great chance of qualifying. However, Monaco have talent in abundance which can punish City if they are slow getting going and indecisive on the ball like we have seen away at Leicester and Everton this season. Over the two legs, City need to put their chances away as missing big opportunities has cost them too many times this season. Otherwise, Jardim’s side have enough attacking ability to cause an upset, as it seems PSG will do to Barcelona.

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