Monday marked the day which fans of the lucky few had been waiting for as the UEFA Champions League last 16 draw was made at lunchtime. With Manchester City in Pot 2 after finishing second in Group C behind FC Barcelona, they narrowly avoided a next round clash with the likes of Atlético Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus after being drawn out of the first and earning a tie against French side AS Monaco. We take a look at everything you need to know about the Ligue 1 side ahead of City’s first leg at home, set to be played on Tuesday 21st February 2017, with the second leg scheduled for Wednesday 15th March 2017.
Who are they? AS Monaco
Association Sportive de Monaco Football Club, otherwise known as AS Monaco, are a Monaco-based side that can currently be found competing in the highest tier of French football in Ligue 1. Established in 1924, Manchester City are set to travel to Monaco’s Stade Louis II for the second-leg of the two part second round fixture and to a ground that holds only 18,523 spectators. As well as being one of the most successful clubs in France with seven league titles and five Coupe de France trophies to their name, the club have prowess in European Football too, finishing as runners-up in both the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and the UEFA Champions League in 1992 and 2004 respectively.
Previously managed by current Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (1987-94) current Southampton manager Claude Puel (1999-2001) and former Swansea City boss Francesco Guidolin (2005-06), the club are currently managed, and have been since 2014 by the former Olympiacos and Sporting CP manager Leonardo Jardim. Meanwhile domestic success on the pitch was long lived and enjoyed between the years of 1960 and 86 but the club were however unable to repeat the same success in Europe. The club were relegated in the 2010-11 season after finishing 18th in Ligue 1 before the Les Rouges et Blancs (The Red and Whites) 66.67% of the club was sold to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev and ever since Monaco have gone from strength to strength, perhaps best exemplified by both their progress in Ligue 1 this season and their 2016/17 UEFA Champions League campaign.
So far this season…
After finishing in third place during the 2015/16 Ligue 1 season, joint on points and only separated by goal difference with second placed Olympique Lyonnais, Jardim’s side gained qualification to the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round and overcame Fenerbahçe and Villarreal in the preliminary rounds to qualify for the group stages of the competition. A 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium followed by important points against Bayer Leverkusen and away in Moscow against CSKA certainly set the tone as Monaco went on to score 5 goals in their next two games to secure comfortable wins over their Group E counterparts and topped their group, one point ahead of closest rivals Bayer Leverkusen and ultimately progressing to the next round. Domestically, 2016/17 has proved to be a good season in Ligue 1 for AS Monaco with Jardim’s side currently sitting in second in the league (at this time of writing), three points over last season’s league winners PSG and a mere point behind the competition’s surprise performers this season Nice.
Season Form & Statistics:
- In Monaco’s last 10 league games they have scored a staggering 38 goals and conceded only 7 league goals during the same period.
- In the league AS Monaco have won five of their last six league games.
- AS Monaco have only lost a total of three games in Ligue 1 and the UEFA Champions League this season.
- Unsurprisingly Monaco lead the way in terms of goal difference with an impressive +37 after 17 league games.
- Former Manchester United man Radamel Falcao is the joint third top scorer in this season’s Ligue 1 competition, notching 10 goals in a mere 579 minutes played and scored his first hat-trick of the season in their most recent victory, a 4-0 thrashing of Bordeaux.
Ones to watch:
Despite difficulties hitting the ground running at Chelsea and Manchester United, an in-form Radamel Falcao is most certainly a danger ahead of City’s knockout clashes with Monaco in early 2017. Along with the club captain João Moutinho, AS Monaco can rely on experience throughout the spine of their team with Moutinho and Falcao linking up well with the veteran Croatian goalkeeper Danijel Subašić and former Torino centre-back Kamil Glik to form a strong core to their regular starting XI. Monaco’s combination with experienced players of very good quality alongside some of the hottest prospects in young football continues to reap its rewards and none more so than this season. Make sure to look out for the promising Brazilian attacking midfielder Gabriel Boschilia and 17 year old French forward Kylian Mbappé, both of whom have rose to fame this season with a number of impressive performances and goals to match for AS Monaco this season.
AS Monaco have managed an average crowd of just over 8000 people this season (8440), the lowest in the league so far this season. This figure suggests that only 46% of tickets are sold for each league game on average.