Monaco ea­ger to prove them­selves

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MONACO: A closer look at Monaco ahead of their Cham­pi­ons League semi-fi­nal, first leg against Ju­ven­tus to­mor­row.


It has been an as­ton­ish­ing sea­son for Monaco, who have scored 146 goals in all com­pe­ti­tions and are on course for a French league-Cham­pi­ons League dou­ble.

Monaco have been av­er­ag­ing nearly three goals per game and top the French league stand­ings with a three-point lead over Paris Saint-Ger­main, hav­ing played a game less.

On the con­ti­nen­tal stage, Monaco have come a long way since July 27 last year, when they started out in the qual­i­fy­ing rounds with a trip to Is­tan­bul. Monaco got past Fener­bahce and then beat Span­ish side Vil­lar­real to reach the group stages.

Led by resur­gent for­ward Radamel Fal­cao and teenage star Kylian Mbappe — who have com­bined for 52 goals in all com­pe­ti­tions — Monaco qual­i­fied for their fourth Euro­pean Cup semi­fi­nal af­ter scor­ing in all but one of their 14 games in this sea­son’s com­pe­ti­tion.

Monaco’s at­tack­ing might was on dis­play in the knock­out rounds when Leonardo Jardim’s team reached the quar­ter-fi­nals with a thrilling away-goals vic­tory against Manch­ester City which ended 6-6 on ag­gre­gate. Monaco, the 2004 Cham­pi­ons League run­ners-up, then beat Borus­sia Dort­mund 6-3 on ag­gre­gate.

THREE PLAY­ERS TO WATCH z KYLIAN MBAPPE — The teenage striker has scored 24 goals in 38 matches in all com­pe­ti­tions. De­spite his young age, he has shown the com­po­sure of a sea­soned striker in re­cent months, es­pe­cially in big games. The 18-year-old Mbappe has been com­pared with France great Thierry Henry and his skills have also earned him a spot in France squad. He is the talk of Euro­pean foot­ball thanks to light­ning speed, trickery, and calm fin­ish­ing. His trans­fer mar­ket value is al­ready es­ti­mated at around €100 mil­lion (RM470 mil­lion).

z RADAMEL FAL­CAO — Fal­cao’s 28 goals this sea­son have con­firmed his re­turn to the high­est level. Fal­cao spent the past two sea­sons on loan to Manch­ester United and Chelsea, where he had a mis­er­able time as he strug­gled to re­cover from a se­ri­ous knee in­jury. He nearly went on loan again this sea­son. But the club gave him another chance, and he has blos­somed into a nat­u­ral leader as cap­tain, de­spite some fit­ness is­sues.

z FABINHO — With the Brazil­ian mid­fielder on the pitch, Monaco have lost just once in 2017.

His part­ner­ship with Tiemoue

Bakayoko in mid­field has been key in Monaco’s league and Cham­pi­ons League cam­paigns.

A tech­ni­cally gifted hold­ing mid­fielder who started at right back, Fabinho has also been con­tribut­ing in at­tack, scor­ing 10 goals in 47 ap­pear­ances.

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