Defence and youth key to Monaco’s success

by admin on January 29th, 2019

filed under 深圳桑拿网

While they are struggling to be a force in Ligue 1, the side from the tiny principality reached the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday by topping Group C with a 2-0 win against Zenit St Petersburg.


They scored a miserly four goals in six games but conceded only one in their sole defeat, showing great resilience to keep their opponents at bay.

Yet Leonardo Jardim’s side finished with 11 points, one point ahead of Bayer Leverkusen whom they beat twice 1-0.

“Let me remind you that we were regarded as the worst team in the group,” said Jardim, referring to Monaco being drawn from the fourth pot.

That looked especially true after Monaco lost midfielder James Rodriguez to Real Madrid and striker Radamel Falcao to Manchester United during the close season.

Monaco struggled early on, quickly dropping out of contention for the Ligue 1 title with three defeats in their five opening games, but their defence has improved.

With Aymen Abdennour, 25, Fabinho, 21 and Wallace, 20, and the experienced Andre Raggi (30) or Jeremy Toulalan (31), Jardim’s side have kept three consecutive clean sheets and conceded very few chances.

“Compared to the beginning of the season we have been much better, and we have always been good in the Champions League,” said Toulalan.

“Maybe we are not flamboyant but we are solid, we do not make many mistakes. We deserve to qualify. Maybe we did not play beautifully but we are solid.”

Monaco, who still hope to finish third in Ligue 1 despite trailing third-placed Olympique Lyonnais by seven points, have lost only two games in all competitions since Sept. 27.

Toulalan said the team, with experienced players such as himself or striker Dimitar Berbatov, have been carried by their youngsters.

“There is a lot of youth in this team and it is promising, we saw that (against Zenit),” said the former France international.

On Tuesday, winger Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, 21 was again in a class of his own, often tormenting the Zenit defence before sending the perfect cross to Abdennour for the 64th-minute opener.

Fabinho then put the result beyond doubt with a clinical shot one minute from time.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Alan Baldwin)

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