It was a dreaded match, and what the Monegasques feared happened. Shakhtar Donetsk won the first leg of the Champions League play-offs on Tuesday August 17 to win 1-0. With this defeat, the principality’s club is making things more difficult before the return jump-off on Wednesday, August 25.
At the Louis II stadium, the Ukrainians were technically very comfortable, leading their score during the first twenty minutes of play. It took them just 18 minutes to open the scoring thanks to the Brazilian Pedrinho, who literally snuck in through the Monegasque defense.
Despite a start from the players of the principality at the end of the first, putting pressure on their opponents and multiplying the attempts, they did not find the solution. By way of example, out of eight strikes from the princely club, only two were framed. Opposite, the “Minors” kept pace and take a serious option on qualifying.
A solidity which is not surprising. And for good reason, Shakhtar is a regular at the group stage of the Champions League. Since 2010, he has only missed this stage of the competition once, in 2016-2017. Ukrainians (with a strong Brazilian vibe) accustomed to the European meeting who had even qualified for the quarter-finals in 2011. Last season, they had shone against Real Madrid (3-2, 2-0) before d ‘fail to qualify for the round of 16, place prize by Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Monaco saw a playing card against the Ukrainians. “They will seek to build, to attack, they will want to score, underlined Niko Kovac, the coach of AS Monaco before the meeting. It also means that we will have opportunities to develop our game and create opportunities. “ If they provided good opportunities, the achievements did not follow, both in the first and in the second half. After half-time, Shakhtar even seemed to be content with a rounded back, aware that the risks must be taken more by the ASM to remember the score. Strategy that pays off.
The start of the season thus remains mixed for the Rocher club. Although the Monegasques eliminated Sparta Prague on August 10 in the third qualifying round, their setback against Shakhtar seven days later coupled with their poor start in Ligue 1 (draw against Nantes and defeat against Lorient), does not leave see nothing good. If they still want to hope to join the group stage of the most prestigious of European competitions, they will still have to raise their level of play in the return match on Wednesday 25 August.
Because in view of what the Ukrainians have on the lawn of the Louis II stadium, it will take more to stand up to them in the return match and hope to repeat their fine course of 2017, where the players of the princely club had reached the semi – finals.