AS Monaco – Match Report vs FC Nantes 13/09/2020

AS Monaco played host to FC Nantes in this early Ligue 1 encounter between two teams who will have had hopes of at least a top half finish going into this season. The match finished 2-1 to Monaco thanks to an early opening goal by youngster Sofiane Diop before substitute Willem Geubbels restored their lead, with Ludovic Blas netting for the away side. The home side deserved the three points on balance, dominating possession and having 18 attempts on goal compared to Nantes’ 7. They came very close to scoring a couple more goals with Badiashile and Ben Yedder hitting the bar and post respectively. Nantes offered a threat on the counter attack through the likes of Bamba, Blas and Simon, but gave the ball away too often in midfield areas and they lacked a focal point and proven goalscorer in attack, with 21 year old striker Kolo Muani yet to score a league goal for the team.

Monaco’s midfield trio in their 4-3-3 system proved pivotal to their success. Fabregas, Tchouameni and Diop provided a nice balance of experience and youth, physicality and technique, and attacking and defensive work rate which allowed them to frequently win turnovers in midfield and to support the front three ahead of them. The front three also caused many problems for the opposition defence with their movement and technical ability on the ball. Ben Yedder would often drop deep into a false 9 type role that allowed Martins and Volland to make inside runs beyond him, whilst ex-Everton winger Henry Onyekuru looked very dangerous against tired legs as he came on in the second half and set up fellow substitute Willem Geubbels to score what would prove to be the decisive goal in the encounter. In defence, the newly formed centre back partnership of Badiashile and Disasi still raises some eyebrows with both players being so young, yet they were very composed when playing out from the back and provided a very evident threat from attacking set pieces as, due to their height and strength, they can be dominant in aerial duels.

Overall, it was a fairly entertaining match to watch from a neutral perspective, with plenty of chances and exciting attacking play on show, and Monaco will be pleased with the nature in which they claimed the three points, whilst Nantes will be disappointed with their sloppiness in possession in midfield areas, but won’t be too disheartened by a 2-1 defeat away from home.

Ratings

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average in this match

Sofiane Diop

Player profile:

  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 20
  • Date of birth: 09/06/2000
  • Current Club: AS Monaco
  • Career: Rennes (Y), AS Monaco, Sochaux (L)
  • Position: Attacking Midfield
  • Secondary Position: Left Wing / Right Wing / Centre Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Sofiane Diop had an impressive game in central midfield, demonstrating his technical ability and the attacking influence he can bring to his team. The 20 year old was confident, composed and efficient in possession, completing 64 of his 70 attempted passes in the game and helping his side to progress through the thirds. The Frenchman was heavily involved and had the second most touches of any player on the pitch, not shying away from the opportunity to influence proceedings but instead flourishing in the three man midfield that Niko Kovac set up his team in. He was active in many areas across the pitch, showing a willingess to drop deep and receive the ball off the defence or to make runs beyond the striker.

He displayed impressive close control to retain the ball under pressure and progress into the final third and he used his speed and skill to beat defenders and open up space for himself. Diop’s passing was positive and looked to create chances or inject pace and directness into build up play. Once he had played a pass, he did the basics well and made sure to move to offer a return option to the man in possession or create space for his teammates to run into, whilst the technique of his passing was smooth, sharp and accurate which helped him to be efficient in the opposition half. It was one of these sharp passes that lead to the second goal, as he picked up the ball just inside his own half before playing roughly a 30 yard pass along the ground into the path of the onrunning Onyekuru who in turn set up Geubbels.

His movement allowed him to drift inside from his left centre midfield role and make runs into the area when the winger ahead of him was in a wider position and he also displayed good awareness to drift in towards the penalty spot when the ball was in wide areas. This is where he was able to open the scoring from, as he ghosted in towards the penalty spot, before the ball was played behind him and he was forced to quickly readjust his body position before swivelling and smashing home into the top corner with a fantastic first time finish. He was creative on the ball as well, and showed no shortage of confidence when picking out switches of play or occasionally playing disguised reverse passes into the path of a teammate when it seemed as though he was just going to play a simple sideways pass. Diop’s first touch and control played an importnat role in him being able to be so influential, as he could smoothly bring the ball under his spell and turn in one fluid motion which immediately put him on the front foot and allowed him to scan for a forwards pass.

At 5’6, the youngster lacks physicality and can struggle in shoulder to shoulder duels, but he used his body well to protect the ball when necessary and he is very agile and nimble which allows him to evade challenges or nip in front of opponents to steal possession. On occasion he was muscled out of challenges too easily and although he did well to win a couple of aerial duels in this match, against a more physical opposite number this could be exposed. He was energetic when closing down the attacker and worked hard to get back into position, yet he showed some naivety early on to commit a rash challenge that lead to him receiving a yellow card and walking a tight rope for the rest of the match. Despite his best defensive efforts, it was clear that Diop’s priorities lie with going forward and he is much more comfortable in possession than out of it.

This was a particularly promising display from the young Frenchman who looked a threat going forward with his passing and movement, whilst he worked hard defensively despite it not seeming to be his strong suit. This was Diop’s first league start of the season and he certainly gave his manager Niko Kovac something to think about with his future team selections, I will be keeping an eye on how Diop develops as he gets more game time across the season.

Rating: A2

Aurélien Tchouaméni

Player profile:

  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 20
  • Date of birth: 27/01/2000
  • Current Club: AS Monaco
  • Career: Bordeaux, AS Monaco
  • Position: Defensive Midfield
  • Secondary Position: Centre Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Lining up alongside the more attack minded Cesc Fabregas and Sofiane Diop in midfield, Tchouameni provided more of a defensive balance to the side and had a good game, displaying his qualities both in and out of possession. Whilst Diop liked to make forward runs and Fabregas tried to dictate the play from deeper areas, Tchouameni provided some defensive security and broke play up well when it seemed as though his team may be exposed to the counter attack. He was decisive and strong in the tackle, making sure to get his foot in and not allow the Nantes midfield players to settle on the ball. He was aggressive and defensively proactive and forced several turnovers in midfield areas to keep his team on the front foot. The 6’1 French youth international has a sturdy build which allows him to provide a physical presence and compete effectively in duels with his opponents, whilst he showed a good reading of the game to immediately close down the man who was in the process of receiving the ball.

Tchouameni’s eagerness to win back the ball for his team also meant that he committed some fouls in the process, which was part of his role in breaking up the play, but also lead to him being booked after just 11 minutes which could have significantly reduced his ability to make tactical fouls or be as aggressive in the challenge. In reality, he did commit one or two more fouls but got away unpunished and continued to be effective in preventing counter attacks. He was also quite brave in his defensive duties, putting his head into dangerous areas to win the ball and not shying away from 50/50’s.

On the ball, the 20 year old displayed some of his qualities, but also made a few sloppy mistakes to give away possession. His passing was generally accurate and he linked up well across midfield zones, as well as demonstrating his range of passing by playing one or two impressive switches and balls over the top of the defence, whilst he also delivered a dangerous cross when he found himself out wide on one occasion. When going forward, he showed a willingness to be creative, yet sometimes the execution wasn’t there as he overhit some through balls that could have lead to a chance, although the thinking behind them was positive.

At times Tchouameni needed to take better care of the ball, and this has been a continuous theme in his play whenever I’ve watched him. His lack of concentration allowed some of his touches to get away from him and be picked off, whilst on one specific occasion he gave the ball away in a very bad area that exposed his team to a counter attack. When the midfielder got into a rhythm he could be effective in possession and kept the play ticking along nicely, whilst although he let some loose touches get away, he also displayed his capability to drive with the ball at his feet and brush off challenges using his big frame and powerful drive. Also, despite him being the more defensive minded of the midfield trio, he found himself with opportunities to have an attempt on goal on a few occasions, and he had four shots, more than any other player. However, these were not clear cut chances and he lacked the killer instinct in front of goal that many forward players have and consequently he failed to test the keeper with any of his efforts.

The 20 year old French midfielder was impressive when breaking up opposition attacks and regaining possession for his team, whilst he showed his capabilities on the ball, even if he was not the most consistent. If Tchouameni can maintain that level of defensive output whilst also eradicating some lapses in concentration in possession, he could be a real asset at the heart of the midfield.

Rating: A2

Axel Disasi

Player profile:

  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 22
  • Date of birth: 11/03/1998
  • Current Club: AS Monaco
  • Career: Paris FC, Reims, AS Monaco
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Secondary position: Right Back
  • Preferred foot: Right

Axel Disasi had a solid game alongside Benoit Badiashile in central defence. The summer signing from Reims was composed on the ball and strong defensively, whilst also posing an aerial threat from set pieces. Both Badiashile and Disasi saw plenty of the ball and they were happy to pass it between them before finding an opening to progress the play into midfield, and Disasi was particularly good at finding forward passes along the ground into the midfielders’ feet. He showed confidence and composure to slide the ball along the ground firmly into midfield or out wide and this helped his team to progress through the thirds during build up play.

He seemed content in possession, but rarely stepped out of defence with the ball at his feet and preferred to try and pick a pass rather than drive into midfield of his own accord. At the attacking end of the pitch, both Disasi and his centre back partner posed a huge aerial threat from offensive set pieces. Disasi himself is 6’3 and has a very big frame that allows him to compete aerially and he made clever runs to pull off the back of the man marking him and attack the ball. However, his headed attempts on goal in this match were inaccurate and failed to cause much of a problem for the opposition despite the threat that he is capable of being.

This physical presence also came in useful when defending, as he won several aerial duels in his own half up against the opposition striker and he made one or two important headed clearances in his team’s penalty area to nullify the danger of the opposition crosses. The 22 year old was strong and decisive when defending in 1 v 1 situations and he made sure to get a foot in and take both man and ball if necessary to prevent the attack from developing. He was aggressive and showed a decent turn of pace on at least one occasion to track back and make effective recovery challenges.

However, his marking and ability to track the run of the forward left some room for improvement in this match as, perhaps due to the two centre backs not having a complete understanding of one another as of yet, the striker was able to run free off the shoulder of the defenders a couple of times. This was evident for Nantes’ goal as Blas made a run off the back of the French central defender before sliding the ball home at the far post. Disasi occasionally showed a lack of awareness to allow the forward to pull off the back of him, and perhaps their was a lack of communication between the centre back partnership that gave glimpses of hope to the Nantes strikeforce in what was generally a quiet game for the Monaco defence.

Disasi was comfortable, efficient and progressive in possession when passing out from the back and was decisive and aggressive when defending in 1 v 1 situations, but his positional awareness and marking let him down at times and is an area he could improve upon from this match. This young, yet very promising defensive partnership that Monaco are implementing will be fascinating to watch over the coming season as they develop further alongside one another.

Rating: B1

Benoît Badiashile

Player profile:

  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 19
  • Date of birth: 26/03/2001
  • Current Club: AS Monaco
  • Career: Limoges (Y), SC Malesherbes (Y), AS Monaco
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Preferred foot: Left

Similarly to Disasi, Badiashile had a relatively solid game at the heart of the defence, but left some room for improvement in certain areas when his team were on the back foot. On the ball, he is, like Disasi, composed, confident and effective when passing out from the back. He completed 65 of his 70 attempted passes in the match, but it was more the nature of his passing that was most impressive, switching the play frequently and finding teammates in advanced areas with ease. He was capable of passing the ball even when under pressure in his own half and was confident when beating the press, rarely seeming to be rushed when in possession. Badiashile is happy to take a few touches when stepping out of the back line with the ball, advancing almost into midfield at times before picking out a teammate.

The 6’4 central defender has an average build but a decent frame which he may need to fill out a bit as he develops, but at only 19 he has time to do so. This height and build allows him to be a threat from set pieces alogside Disasi, but Badiashile is perhaps quicker with the ball at his feet, and he adjusted well to hit a volley off the crossbar demonstrating good technique, and he was unlucky not get his third goal in three games in Ligue 1.

Defensively, the young central defender showed a good turn of pace and won some important aerial battles, whilst he read the play well on a couple of occasions to intervene and regain possession for his side. However, he needed to be careful not to be drawn out of the back line too easily and he was fortunate that Nantes had a goal disallowed by the finest of margins for offside after he had stepped up to try and press the man on the ball only to leave a giant hole in the defensive line behind him. Occasionally he got too close to the forward, and this made it easier for the opposition player to spin and get in behind him and although Badiashile is fast he sometimes struggled to time his interventions which lead to him being beaten or committing a foul. Although the goal they conceded was not his fault and at first glance he seemed to do a solid job in defence, in reality this was a bit of a disappointing defensive display from Badiashile who I have previously written a player report on and praised highly.

Badiashile was confident and effective during build up play and when playing out of defence, and was also instrumental in some of his team’s forward moves due to his positive passing, but his positioning and timing in the challenge let him down a bit in this match. As mentioned earlier, Badiashile and Disasi have the potential to be top class central defenders and it will be intriguing to watch them develop further both as a partnership and individually this season, as there is clear quality there but also some room for improvement based on this display and previous games I have observed them in.

Rating: B1

Radosław Majecki

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Polish
  • Age: 20
  • Date of birth: 16/11/1999
  • Current Club: AS Monaco
  • Career: Legia Warsaw, Stal Mielec (L), AS Monaco, Legia Warsaw (L)
  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • Preferred foot: Right

Young Polish goalkeeper Majecki started the game in the place of the regular number 1 Benjamin Lecomte who was out with injury for this match, and although he had relatively little to do, the 20 year old struggled between the sticks. When passing along the floor, he was confident and smooth and didn’t look out of place at all, but when clearing long he struggled for accuracy, frequently overhitting his clearances and finding the free heads of the Nantes defenders who were more than happy to win the ball unchallenged. In Volland, Ben Yedder and Martins, Monaco did not have much of an aerial presence at the top end of the pitch, so the keeper’s clearances needed to be accurate to give them any chance of winning the duel. Also, when put under pressure on one occasion, he had a heavy first touch which lead to another poor clearance that lost possession for his team.

When facing shots, he was forced into making one save low down to his left from an effort from distance, and he although he diverted it away from the goal, he failed to keep a hold of it when perhaps other keepers would have been able to, and instead it went behind for a corner. Other than that, the only other shot that he faced was the goal which was from about 7 yards out, but he got a solid hand to it and will perhaps be disappointed not to have kept it out having got across in time and it not being the most powerful of strikes. The 6’3 goalkeeper was not particularly commanding in his area, but he did well to hold onto one low cross into a dangerous area along the edge of the 6 yard box. One aspect of his game that was impressive was his speed off his line to sweep up balls over the top and prevent the striker running onto them, this came in useful on a couple of occasions where he was able to snuff out the danger by showing good awareness to rush off his line and clear.

Overall a disappointing display from the young goalkeeper who perhaps didn’t make the most of his chance to impress in his teammate’s absence, but he will have learnt from it and getting a taste of Ligue 1 football will have helped his development greatly.

Rating: C

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