Monaco v Toulouse – Stade Louis II at 19:45 Live at BT Sport
The 2016/17 campaign will go down in French football history folklore as 20/1 shots Monaco managed to usurp perennial Ligue 1 champions PSG with a rich attacking flair that few in the principality would have predicted before the season’s start.
Leonardo Jardim’s charges tabled 95 points and smashed over a century of goals on their way to winning 30 Ligue 1 fixtures. Les Rouges et Blanc was confirmed as title winners on the penultimate weekend of action but in truth, Les Monegasques appeared unassailable months before.
But the mighty success and eye-catching displays produced by Monaco at home and abroad have seen the vultures swirl around the Stade Louis II this summer.
The model employed by the club – source young talent and sell for profit – has seen the hierarchy rake in almost €170m in player sales following the departures of Benjamin Mendy, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Bernardo Silva amongst others.
Kylian Mbappe’s been subject to world record bids and rumors continue to follow the futures of Thomas Lemar and Fabinho. But the principality club haven’t stood still and have brought in two impressive additions in dynamic midfielder Youri Tielemans and versatile defender Terence Kongolo.
A clutch of highly-touted loanees have also returned to the Stade Louis II – Rony Lopes, Adama Traore, and Allan Saint-Maximin will all expect game-time this time around – and Monaco’s performance in France’s curtain-raiser, the Trophee des Champions in Tangier against PSG, suggests they won’t go quietly.
Last season the side saw their games average 3.63 goals per game with 31 featuring at least three goals – half of those encounters produced four goals or more – but with key figures departing, it would be a surprise if those eye-boggling numbers continued into 2017/18.
Nevertheless, I fully expect Monaco to approach this term with the same style, swagger, and vigor as last and that could spell trouble for Toulouse on the opening evening of the campaign this Friday.
Toulouse’s attacking issues
After two campaigns of battling against the drop, Les Pitchouns came close to breaking the top-half of the Ligue 1 standings under the astute leadership of Pascal Dupraz last time out. A crippling lack of goals in the final third of the campaign proved TFC’s undoing.
Toulouse won a solitary encounter in their final 13 weeks, managing to net just six times as they slid down the table. Eight of those outings ended all-square and their paltry attack often failed to fire on their travels; goals were often thin on the ground with nine road trips featuring fewer than two goals.
The club has looked to address their final-third issues by recruiting Yaya Sanogo and Corentin Jean following the departure of Martin Braithwaite, whilst bigger things are expected of Andy Delort following a full pre-season with the club. Meanwhile, Yannick Cahuzac looks a solid replacement for leading assist-maker Oscar Trejo.
The Betting Angle
Toulouse is hoping to break the top-10 in 2017/18 but their W1-D5-L7 return at top-half clubs under Dupraz suggests they may suffer a false start in the campaign’s curtain-raiser.
Monaco, Lyon, and Nice notched at least three goals when welcoming TFC last term and the fancied hosts should be capable of getting amongst the goals here despite losing key personnel this summer.
Backing Monaco with a -1.5 Asian Handicap start appears our best avenue of attack; it banked on 13 (68) occasions during the title-winning season.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Monaco -1.5 at 2.00
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