Heading into their colossal clash against Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes, not many expected AS Monaco to obtain anything against the mighty home team. But thanks to a fantastic collective performance by the Monégasques in Robert Moreno’s first Ligue 1 game in charge, they came away with a deserved point.
In arguably the most entertaining match of the season, Monaco were certainly good value in the 3-3 draw, as they pushed the reigning champions all the way. Needing their stars to stand up against Thomas Tuchel’s star studded team, Monaco’s players produced the goods.
Leading the line with aplomb throughout, Wissam Ben Yedder certainly stamped his mark by putting in a masterful showing, in a match where he wreaked havoc and justifiably earned a spot in L’Equipe’s team of the week.
Causing so many issues for PSG due to his dynamism, intelligent movement and technical prowess, the diminutive frontman proved an extremely tricky customer to contain.
To start with, his strategic movement formed a fantastic platform for him to impact proceedings. A master at identifying vacant spaces down the channels and in between defenders, the French international’s tailored runs in behind and into the box were a huge weapon for the away side.
Angling, timing and directing his runs shrewdly, this, in combination with how he used double movements, zig zags and dummy runs to unbalance his marker, put the 29-year-old in good positions to be a quality target. Indeed, Monaco’s opener, where his crafty run drew Keylor Navas out to leave Gelson Martins free to score, and his astute run prior to his goal, offered a testament to his aptitude in this regard.
With PSG dominating possession for large spells, it was imperative they had an outlet through which to launch counter attacks. And vitally, Ben Yedder was the man, with his brilliantly timed dropping movement giving Monaco valuable support once they forced a turnover.
Doing a fine job of getting into positions behind PSG’s double midfield pivot and in front of their backline, he created issues for his adversaries. Seeing as he exploited the space behind the midfielders out of their vision and the centre backs were reluctant to leave their post so they didn’t leave big gaps in the PSG backline, this subsequently meant Ben Yedder found plenty of room to inherit the ball to kick start some beautiful transitions.
Boasting a low centre of gravity, great balance and good strength, this added to his worth when checking towards the ball, for it allowed him to hold up play and protect the ball while he waited for an option. What’s more, the fact he’d scan his surroundings gave him an idea of how close his man was and what was around him, so he knew what action to take.
Meanwhile, when he had the ball at his feet, his sharp first touch and ball control meant he could receive passes cleanly before wriggling free of danger or playing a tidy layoff, flick on or backheel. Boasting quick feet, a handy repertoire of skills and slick changes of pace and direction, his ball carrying certainly added some additional impetus to Monaco’s attacks.
Aside from combining in close quarters, there were many occasions where he struck some lovely through balls or broke the lines with an ingenuitive pass, as he illustrated he has that unique ability to both create chances and score.
Capping off his marvelous showing by finding the back of the net in the first half with a clinical finish after letting the ball roll to outfox his marker, Ben Yedder demonstrated what an integral figure of this Monaco team he is.
When speaking after the match, Moreno aptly summed up what a key man is, insisting: “He’s a great player, he has the quality to score goals, but also offers many solutions to his teammates. He is very important to us. I hope he is always at this level.
By the numbers, his one assist, two shots, 24 completed passes, three dribbles, three shot assists, three progressive runs and five touches inside the box illustrated his tremendous body of work.
Leading the Ligue 1 scoring charts on 14, there’s no doubting the little marksman’s been one of the signings of the season, as he looks well on track to beat his best goal tally in a season that stands at 18.
Although Monaco have changed manager, it appears that one thing will remain the same, with that being that Ben Yedder will keep scoring no matter who’s in charge.