Monaco v PSG – Stade Louis II at 19:45 live on BT Sport 2
Monaco haven’t finished lower than third in Ligue 1 since securing promotion back to the top-flight and the principality club were unfortunate to miss out on second-place last season as Lyon pipped Les Rouges et Blancs on goal difference.
That meant Leonardo Jardim’s troops would enter the Champions League qualifying play-offs but Monaco overcame Fenerbahce 4-3 and Villarreal 3-1 on aggregate to secure their place in the group-phase. Naturally, the mood and morale around the club is excellent right now.
Monaco started their season slowly, falling 2-0 behind to Guingamp at the Stade Louis II before battling back for a point. They’ve since seen off Nantes and Villarreal by the same 1-0 scorelines and Jardim has worked hard to improve the defensive aspect of his side.
Last season, Sunday’s hosts shipped 50 goals. But the additions of centre-back Kamil Glik, right-back Djibril Sidibe and left-back Benjamin Mendy were made specifically to tighten up those areas. The club also deserve credit for holding onto their leading lights during the off-season.
Although the likes of Vagner Love and Falco are unlikely to be involved here, there’s still plenty of quality available in attacking areas. Monaco much prefer playing counter-attacking football as they’re far less likely to be caught off-guard against sides that offer a similar approach.
So in theory, Sunday’s contest against PSG should suit Les Rouges et Blancs. In 2015/16 Jardim’s men returned a W10-D6-L3 record at the Stade Louis II but more impressively, the home side have lost just once in 15 home fixtures against top-six opposition since returning to Ligue 1 (W6-D8-L1).
PSG have twice been held to draws under Laurent Blanc’s watch whilst last season the treble champions were beaten in the principality. So can Monaco repeat the feat and avoid defeat against their all-conquering visitors? Of course, they can.
The Parisians are already top of the Ligue 1 standings with a 100% record and two clean sheets to their name. But Unai Emery is still putting his stamp on the side and Les Rouge-et-Bleu were fortunate not to concede goals against Metz or Bastia in their opening matches.
Full-backs Layvin Kurzawa and Serge Aurier have impressed going forward but can easily be caught out of position whilst David Luiz is a doubt this weekend along with captain Thiago Silva and first-choice goalkeepers Kevin Trapp and Salvatore Sirigu.
Alphonse Areola is a very capable back-up in the sticks and Marquinhos’ return will bolster Emery’s defensive options but further question marks can be found going forward where unsurprisingly, replacing the hugely influential Zlatan Ibrahimovic has proven problematic thus far.
Hatem Ben Arfa unimpressed in the central striking role at Bastia before Edinson Cavani missed a catalogue of opportunities against Metz last weekend. Ibrahimovic netted 113 times in 122 league appearances and Emery must find a system to suit his squad sooner than later.
Monaco beat PSG here last season because they managed to stay compact and tight at the back before pouncing forward on the counter. A similar strategy here could well pay dividends and the 2.13 on the hosts with a +0.50 Asian Handicap start looks well worth a wager.
Interestingly, Monaco have trailed at half-time just once in their past 15 clashes against top-six teams as hosts whilst PSG have led at the interval in only five of their previous 20 trips to top-six sides. With that in mind, I’ll also attack the half-time Asian Handicap betting market with 1.94 available on Monaco +0.25.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Monaco +0.5 at 2.13 & Monaco +0.25 first-half at 1.94
Prices correct at time of writing.
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