the thundering spring of Monaco

Spring is doing well for AS Monaco (ASM). Like last season, the Principality’s football club had a great end to the season, riding a series of eight consecutive league victories – the best current series in the five major European championships.

In Ligue 1, only Paris-Saint-Germain (PSG) managed such a sequence at the start of the season. A record that Monaco can erase against Brest, Saturday May 14 (9 p.m.), for the 37and and penultimate day.

Thanks to this string of victories, the Monegasques took their place on the podium, for the first time this season, following their victory in Lille (2-1), on May 6, just three points behind Olympique de Marseille. (OM), second. To the point of being able to openly dream of the Champions League for next season.

“It has become very complicated to hope for a place in the Champions League, we must not hide our face”said Monegasque central defender Benoît Badiashile (21) after the 28and day, in March, when his team (8and) was nine points behind third place. “I never said that the podium was not possible”notes for his part, for The world, Belgian coach Philippe Clement (48), who arrived in January to replace Croatian Niko Kovac.

Failure in the Europa League, “an evil for a good”

Before the start of spring, however, the ASM’s situation was not glorious. Eliminated in the semi-finals of the Coupe de France by the eventual winner, Nantes, and in the round of 16 of the Europa League by the Portuguese of Braga, Monaco sank into crisis.

According to information from The Teamthe owner and Russian president of the club, Dmitri Rybolovlev, wanted to separate from his vice-president, Oleg Petrov, from the sporting director, Paul Mitchell, but also from the coach, Philippe Clement.

“We heard about this paper on the morning of the match against PSG”on March 20, tells the World the vice-captain, Axel Disasi (24 years old). “The reaction from the team has been very good. » ASM had beaten PSG (3-0), launching its positive series. “I don’t know if we can take this match as a trigger, but we showed that even in a bad period this team had a lot of qualities”continues the player.

Paradoxically, the failure in the Europa League “was a blessing in disguise, even if we had the ambition to do better”admits the vice-captain. “We had more time to prepare for the matches, to rest, to put things in place. »

Strengthened cohesion

Philippe Clement was finally able to impose his mark on the game and the life of the group. Very quickly, he got down to strengthening cohesion. “I saw, at one point, that they were a bit distant, there was no connection between the different groups in the locker room”, he slips. The Belgian coach organizes a paintball, a barbecue and installs, at the Turbie training center, a basketball hoop, table football and ping-pong tables. “Thanks to these activities, we create certain bonds, we get to know the person in front of us a little better”confirms Axel Disasi.

In the field, “The coach brings a lot of calm and patience”explained midfielder Youssouf Fofana on the RMC Sport website in mid-April. “I saw that there was a lack of tranquility when the circumstances were not favorableanalyzes Philippe Clement. Players were getting nervous, frustrated and wanting to force things. »

The coach, triple Belgian champion with Genk (2019) then FC Bruges (2020 and 2021), relies on a stable starting lineup, unlike the permanent rotations of his predecessor. His starting team is largely that of last season.

Monaco also benefited from the return of Aleksandr Golovin (25), Youssouf Fofana (23), who has regained his level alongside his midfield accomplice, Aurélien Tchouaméni (22). Wissam Ben Yedder continues to panic the counters (21 goals, second top scorer in Ligue 1 behind Kylian Mbappé).

Best defense of the season

Defensively, ASM has turned a corner. With thirteen goals conceded in the last seventeen meetings, the club of the principality is the best defense of 2022. Consequence of a change of system and a reformed duo between Benoît Badiashile and Axel Disasi. “It’s very important to have a team that defends well, savors Philippe Clement. I want an offensive game, and we do it, but the defensive organization must remain. »

Above all, since this winter, the rock club can count on the Brazilian Vanderson (20 years old). The right side or midfielder, who arrived in January from Grêmio Porto Alegre (Brazil) for around 11 million euros, quickly made himself indispensable by scoring his first goal after only three games in his new colors.

The Brazilian Vanderson in front of the Dutchman Sven Botman, during the Lille-Monaco match, at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium, in Villeneuve-d'Ascq (North), May 6, 2022.

“It’s a real revelation, he acclimatized quite quickly. It energizes the right side”analyzed this week, on RMC, Jérôme Rothen, former club player between 2002 and 2004. “He brought us a lot of fresh blood, creativity, racing”confirms Axel Disasi.

Monaco also exudes physical strength. “Physically, we feel superior to others”said Aurélien Tchouaméni, before moving to Lille. “It gives confidence, when you know that at the end of the match you still have this energy”, insists Philippe Clement. One of the many explanations for the dynamics of ASM, which wants to succeed in the pass of ten against Brest then Lens (Saturday May 21, at 9 p.m.). The club would thus be assured, at least, of third place, synonymous with Europe.

Ligue 1: the challenges of the 37ᵉ day

The 37and and the penultimate day of Ligue 1, Saturday May 14, promises to be crucial, even decisive, in several respects.

The battle for the Champions League. After the defeat of Rennes in Nantes, Wednesday May 11, the battle for the 2and place, directly qualifying for the Champions League group stage, and for the 3and place, qualifying for the third preliminary round of the same competition, concerns above all Marseille (2and68 points) and Monaco (3and, 65 points). The Marseillais, who go to Rennes on Saturday before receiving Strasbourg, have a more difficult schedule than that of the Monegasques (Brest then Lens).

Tickets for the Europa League and the Europa League Conference. Winner of the Coupe de France, Nantes has already qualified for the Europa League. There is therefore one ticket left for this competition which will go to the club finishing in 4and championship spot. The 5and place, it will qualify for the play-offs for access to the group stage of the Europa League Conference.

Nice (4and63 points) starts with a slight advantage over Rennes (5and62 points), Strasbourg (6and60 points) and Lens (7and, 58 points). Rennes welcomes Marseille, with the possibility of eliminating, if successful, the Lensois from the race for Europe, regardless of their result in Troyes. By beating Clermont, Strasbourg would keep a chance to qualify on the last day.

Who will go down to Ligue 2? The 18and place will lead to home and away matches against a Ligue 2 club, while the 19and and 20and places will be synonymous with direct relegation to Ligue 2.

Troyes (15and37 points) is mathematically not sure of its maintenance, but only an unlikely scenario would leave the club at the 18and square. Clermont (16and36 points) should also play in Ligue 1 next season, unless Lorient recovers (17and34 points) and Saint-Etienne (18and31 points).

The Bretons are competing in a “final” for the maintenance at the red lantern, Bordeaux (20and, 27 points), condemned to Ligue 2 in the event of defeat. Even victorious, the Bordelais can go down, if the Greens win against Reims. A success for the Stéphanois could also be fatal to relegated Metz (19and28 points) if the Messins do not beat Angers.

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