“The French should be happy that he left, because now they have a league.” This was how José Mourinho referred to Zlatan Ibrahimovic departure from PSG and consequently, to the increased competitiveness within the French League. Leonardo Jardim´s Monaco has been taking advantage of this, being currently in 1st place with 48 points, and also, Lucie Favre’s Nice in 2nd place with 46 points.
A young, dynamic and irreverent team from an offensive point of view, but at the same time cautious, aggressive and pragmatic, defensively, just like Leonardo Jardim.
Monaco deserves to be highlighted for having one of the best attacks in Europe, counting with 64 goals with only 21 matches in the League.
The Monegasque offensive process can be distinguished in five points.
In the first phase of construction, Monaco doesn’t start with a supported football. The goalkeeper, Subasic, and central defenders, Glik and Jemerson, chose a direct style to the offensive midfield. Proof of this is the average possession of Monaco, 52%, against 61% and 57% of PSG and Nice, respectively. Another important thing to understand the impatience in the construction phase is the average distance covered by Daniel Subasic passes – 40 meters. With 29% of ball possession in the opponent’s half, Monaco is the team that plays most time in the offensive midfield.
Subasic could play easily due to the lack of pressure from PSG, but chooses to play long for Bernardo Silva, on the left wing.
With a 1-4-4-2 formation, the team privileges the fast transitions by means Lemar´s speed, and also by Bernardo Silva´s unpredictability who starts in one of the wings and deflects to the middle. The French winger already has 7 goals and 4 assists, staring in the key passes – 1,8 per game. On the other hand, the young Portuguese has the same amount of goals and assists, 4, accomplishing an average of 1,6 shots and 1,7 dribles by match.
Falcao has an important role as he gets back on the field in order to support and offer quality and criteria in the play´s definition. He receives, turns and delivers to Germain on the right. Lemar and Sidibe in position to attack the space and offer a solution for the quick play.
Bakayoko recovers and passes to Bernardo. The Portuguese plays short for Falcao, who defines the offensive play. Cleverness and maturity from the Colombian forward in the offensive transition – he can stretch in the speed of the wingers or in depth for Germain.
With 2 offensive full backs – Djibril Sidibé and Benjamin Mendy, and 2 wingers that can unbalance inside and outside – Thomas Lemar and Bernardo Silva, Monaco completes on average 24 crossings per game for Ligue 1. In 60 goals scored this season, 13 were from set plays and 41 from offensive plays. This numbers illustrate the importance of indirect free kicks and corners, often results´s unlockers.
Leonardo Jardim directs his team to explore the side corridors, with passes in depth to the wingers, still in the first phase of construction. Lemar and Bernardo, often in offensive organization, search for interior zones in order to allow the full backs upturn on their back, taking advantage of speed, technique, unpredictability and above all, quality in the crosses with a good tactical reading of the plays.
The team frightens the opponent’s defense by having their full back embedding the attack and joining the winger.
Raggi progression on the right, delivering to Sidibe that raises his head high and finds João Moutinho attacking the space in the area entrance. The ball is going out for the better placed man to finish.
As a team that relies on fast attacks and counter attacks, Monaco reacts to the ball loss still in the offensive midfield, pressing the opponent at the start of the play. They make counter-attacks difficult and restrict the opponent’s strategy, with the option to regain possession on an offensive ground, and then attack an unbalanced defensive opponent.
Players have full sense of time and space attacking the opponent when this does not appear to control the ball possession. Fabinho and Bakayoko pressure, recover and deliver the ball. Falcao, Germain, Bernardo Silva and Lemar use their decision-making abilities to create goal situations for the team, crucial in this moments.
In the defensive process, it’s possible to see the wingers closing inside, leading the opponent to the side lanes to pressure, then. A thought strategy that allows Monaco to have numerical advantage in the central lane. Defensively, the Monegasque team grants an average of 10,2 shots per game, completes 19,6 disarms and 15,1 interceptions.
The team reacts quickly after losing the ball in an offensive organization. The pressure results in a ball set to Bernardo Silva who, in an individual initiative makes the goal. If the pressure didn’t work, the ball would get in a danger zone for Tottenham to take advantage of Monaco’s offensive balancing.
5.Princes & Kings
Today’s Monaco is different from the one its owner Dmitry Rybolovlev dreamed of a few years ago. The Princes of Monaco seek to make history this season towards the French title. The Little Prince, Bernardo Silva, has been commanding with class and mastery the team to victories, but it’s not the only youngster in the spotlight. The midfield duo Bakayoko and Fabinho, 22 and 23 years old respectively, have been catching the attention of major European clubs. On the wings, the full backs Mendy, Sidibe and the winger Lemar, all under 24 years old, have also been showing us that there’s so much quality in Leonardo Jardim´s Monaco. Guido Carrillo, Boschilia, Mbappe, Traoré, Jemerson, Touré and Jean complete the remaining batch of young promises.
In the club of Kings, Subasic is the defensive mainstay, but he counts with the help of more experienced players like Dirar, João Moutinho and Falcao, all of them with 30 years. The Portuguese midfielder has lost ground in the middle sector but continues to offer high quality solutions. On the other side, the striker and team’s captain seems to be back to his best form, after the recent injuries. He lost some important physical abilities but gained balance, maturity and positional sense. A different striker but still with with goal nose, as evidenced by the 12 goals in 15 matches for the League. At his side, Germain has been important in the club’s new reality. Two forwards who complement each other and know how to attack spaces in the area like few others.
By Francisco Gomes da Silva