With Monaco desperately wanting a win to get back on track after their 1-0 loss to Saint-Etienne, their strong showing against Dijon ensured they returned to the winners list.
Defeating their plucky adversaries 1-0, who had just defeated the mighty Paris Saint-Germain in their previous fixture, there were certainly many positives to be drawn from the 1-0 victory that was sealed by Aleksandr Golovin’s delightful goal.
One of the key takeaways was unquestionably the performance of Guillermo Maripan from his central defensive post. Exuding composure, clarity and quality in almost everything he did, the Chilean was crucial towards Monaco blunting the Dijon attack and keeping a clean sheet.
Reading the play smoothly and scanning his surroundings effectively, Maripan was wide awake to any nearby threats. So quick to react to runs in behind and into the box, his anticipation and awareness made up for any deficiencies in pace he has. Usually getting touchtight or goalside, there was hardly an instance of an opponent getting the better of him. This also extended to when he shifted across to cover runs that were missed by his colleagues, as he’d smartly get over to quell the danger.
Maripan covering across superbly
In addition, the way he responded rapidly to pressing cues, like when his man dropped deep to link play, to heap pressure on them so they couldn’t turn him or execute cleanly, compounded issues for his foes. This subsequently meant he broke up many a move before it got going, as his towering strength to unsettle his markers and long legs to nip in to intercept served him well too.
Maripan reading the play to apply an intervention when his man drops deep
Maripan stepping out with authority
Identifying with conviction whether to step out, drop back, shift across, follow a runner or support a teammate, there was so much to admire about his positional intelligence and exemplary judgement.
Maripan shifting across to cover the space when his teammate steps out
Excellent slide tackle to prevent the shot on goal
The former Alaves star showcased his organisational and leadership skills too, for he communicated with his defensive comrades to help keep their spacing, shape and defensive line compact to deal with the Dijon frontline. Commanding and authoritative, his presence gave the Monegasques an added layer of security and stability.
Meanwhile, when it came to dealing with aerial situations, the towering Chilean international dealt with headed duels comfortably by using his power, good leap timing and judgement. An asset on both defensive and attacking set pieces, and also when dealing with crosses into the box, Maripan handled himself admirably in such cases.
It was also notable how he adjusted his body position depending on the trajectory and positioning of the incoming deliveries, with him remaining balanced and coordinated to clear the danger coherently.
In terms of his offensive output, and the 25-year-old’s quality with the ball at his feet shone. Passing the ball with confidence and purpose, Maripan was pivotal in connecting, constructing and breathing life into his team’s attacks. Whether playing sharp vertical passes, recycling possession while waiting for an opening or hitting wicked switches of play to place the wide men in advantageous 2v1 or 1v1 scenarios, his distribution was very impactful indeed.
Lovely switch of play by Maripan
Maripan switching the play crisply
The two footed defender’s composure and comfort with the ball at his feet benefited his side well too, for it allowed him to handle being pressed, carry the ball upfield smoothly and to draw opponents out to create a free man further upfield.
Putting in a shift that was littered with upside, the 193 cm stopper who cost €18 million in the summer justifiably drew praise from his manager after the match. “Maripan is a player who has great technical finesse, it is good that he is in central defence to facilitate the game with his passing quality. That’s why Glik played on the right; he had more duels to play,” Leonardo Jardim explained.
Statistically speaking, his 49 completed passes at 94%, eight accurate long balls at 89%, eight ball recoveries, five interceptions, three clearances and two blocked shots punctuated his first rate output.
Hardly missing a step in what was an accomplished performance by the Chilean, his presence demonstrated what quality he brings to the team on both sides of the ball.
With Monaco now moving into equal tenth on the Ligue 1 ladder and looking better at the back, as Maripan continues to adapt and gain the faith of Jardim, expect the excellent central defender to become a mainstay within Monaco’s backline sooner rather than later.