There was a time, not so long ago, when a Monaco-Lille unleashed passions and displayed a poster between two contenders for the title. A few months later, the meeting between the last two executioners of the PSG in the list of the Ligue 1 takes on an almost ordinary character. Friday November 19, it is in the coldness of November and in the anonymity of the soft underbelly that the ASM, 11th, and the LOSC, 12th, clash. If the difficulties of the Mastiffs of Jocelyn Gourvennec were highlighted in the Champions League, despite the last victory in Seville, what about the Monegasque stammerings?
Very irregular in Ligue 1, the Monegasques do not succeed against the cadors. Dryly beaten by Lens, Marseilles and Lyonnais (0-2 each time), Monaco only showed character Pleasant (2-2) or against Montpellier (3-1). The other victories, only obtained against promoted (Clermont and Troyes) or drifting ships (Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne), justifying the place of the Rocher club in the ranking. Unworthy of his status last year. “Last year, we were in the shoes of the hunter and the outsider. This season, we are chased and that changes a lot of things. We’re favorites. “, tries to justify Kovac.
These contrasting results are all the more surprising given that Niko Kovac’s workforce has hardly changed this summer. Exciting last season, the team from the Rock joined in the fight for the title. The third attack in the championship (76 goals) was carried by a diabolical duo, formed by Wissam Ben Yedder (20 goals in 37 games) and Kevin Volland (15 goals in 35 outings). The two friends stayed, but their performance is lower this season. The captain remains prolific with 8 goals (including 3 penalties) in all competitions, but the German has only found the net on 4 occasions.
– OptaJean (@OptaJean) October 31, 2021
This lack of success of the doublet is clearly felt in the results. In Ligue 1, ASM scored 17 goals in 13 outings. And the 11 achievements in 8 European matches do not improve this average. In total, the Monegasque attack has remained silent on eight occasions since August. Already three times more than the whole of last season. Beaten in Brest (0-2) then held in check by PSV and Reims (0-0), Monaco has not scored since the end of October.
“I know this statistic and I’m not happy with it. We used these ten days to work on the offensive animation with the good ten players who were present.”Niko Kovac
in press conference
Several factors explain this relative scarcity. First of all, Ben Yedder and Volland suffer from an overall offensive animation at half mast, especially on the wings. In an animation oscillating between 4-4-2 and 3-4-1-2, some off-center like Gelson Martins or Aleksandr Golovin have a lower performance than last year. The double-pivot, formed by the neo-international Aurélien Tchouaméni and Youssouf Fofana, is also moving a notch below.
Above all, the ASM suffers from a hellish schedule this season. Between the championship and European meetings, Monaco has played 21 games, more than any other French team. Five players, including Volland and Ben Yedder, only missed one game. Present at the Euro in June and then often requisitioned by their selections, the two attackers never stop. “After the games I am always very tired. I get a lot of hits”, said the German at a press conference.
Last year, the Reds and Whites did not play in the European Cup. This year, depending on trips to Ukraine, the Czech Republic or Austria, the ASM continues, at the risk of getting tired. “You have to learn another life as a footballer. Being able to play every three days is totally different than playing once a week.”, declared Niko Kovac in early November. The Croatian technician will have to get used to it: with eight points, the Asemists dominate their Europa League group and are on course to remain European in the spring.
– UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) November 16, 2021
These good results on the continental scene constitute a reason for hope for the rest of the Monegasque season. Even if ASM is not always brilliant there, it stands up to Real Sociedad and PSV.
And it would be wrong to bury ASM so quickly. According to Alexander Nübel, the atmosphere is good. “The state of mind is good in the group, we are all motivated to find positive results. We are ready to fight, to give everything to restart a dynamic”, indicates the goalkeeper loaned by Bayern on the club’s website.
The German goalkeeper, in delicacy on his first matches but in progress since, illustrates this wind of optimism. Niko Kovac also wants to be reassuring in front of a ranking “greenhouse” – Nice, third, is only five points. “I believe in this team, in its capacities and I know that it will turn out “, abounds the former Bavarian coach.
The recent history of ASM helps to justify this statement. Because since its rise in the elite in 2013, the club has become accustomed to a better success in its second parts of the seasons. In 2016-2017, 11 more points in the second half (53 points against 42) allowed him to seek his last league title. Last year, this total rose to 12 units (45 points against 33). Monaco don’t like the final sprint, they love it. And could, as long as the bar is quickly raised, be one of the main players at the end of the season.