Despite going down to 10 men in the 46th minute when Youssouf Fofana was sent off, AS Monaco impressively held onto their 1-0 advantage to secure their first win of the season. 

Benoit Badiashile’s smashing strike, his second already this term, sealed all three points, as Niko Kovac’s men yet again demonstrated plenty of resilience and character to shut out Metz. The Croatian coach duly praised his team afterwards, stating: “It was a very difficult match for us, especially in the second half. We played with ten against eleven after halftime and for a coach it’s never easy because you can’t predict a red card. But the reaction from the team has been very good, like last week.

“We showed a lot of character and a great fighting spirit in the second half. We are happy to have won, especially since AS Monaco’s last victory was in February. Now we have two weeks to prepare for the next game.”

Kovac notably made a point of mentioning the returning Djibril Sidibe’s solid effort too, who spent last campaign on loan with Everton. “I am very happy with his performance,” he explained.

“He showed he was ready, in good shape. He has significant experience with the French national team and recently in the Premier League, which can add to the team. I don’t think there were any chances from his flank, that’s what I expect from a player.”

Operating at left back, Sidibe repaid his manager’s faith by putting in an encouraging shift. Having to get through a heap of defensive work, in large part due to Monaco being shorthanded for half of the contest, he rose to the challenge. 

Showing shrewd positional awareness, Sisibe typically made excellent decisions on what course of action to take depending on the situation. Alert to tracking runners in behind, he used his speed and reading of the play to get the jump on his markers (usually Farid Boulaya) to snuff out the danger. 

Sidibe tracking the run expertly using his awareness and pace

It was particularly impressive to note how he performed thorough head scans so he was awake to potentially damaging blindside runs in behind. The images below shows how smoothly he adjusts to these instances to deal with them coherently. 

Sidibe alert to his opponent’s blindside run in behind
Sidibe monitoring his runner well as he scans his surrounds superbly

Meanwhile, when it came to stepping out to track his man deeper, pick up a teammate’s marking assignment or make a vital interception, he demonstrated fine judgement. Leaving his post authoritatively and with intent, this saw him win the ball back cleanly to break up attacks and ensure his man couldn’t turn and face due to his touchtight pressure.

Superbly timed tackle to recover possession
Getting touchtight to his man as he drops deep with his back to goal

If not doing any of the aforementioned, Sidibe smartly tucked in to help form a compact backline with his colleagues, in what was a defensively sound effort from he and his colleagues. 

In an offensive sense, the former AS Monaco star contributed admirably here too. Although he often took up a conservative position to give his team structural security in case of a turnover, with his positioning allowing Aleksandr Golovin and Henry Onyekuru the freedom to attack freely, he still took his opportunities to get involved.

Sidibe’s Heat Map

Choosing his moments when to carry the ball forward with the idea to lure out a presser or push up to support wide attacks, he offered a good outlet for Monaco. Key highlights came from his smart opposite movements with Golovin to attack higher spaces, from how he formed 3v2 overloads and served as a quality outlet with his third man runs amplified his worth.

Excellent third man movement to provide a fine outlet
Sidibe pushes up as Golovin drops deep
Helping form a 3v2 to progress the attack

By the numbers, his seven duels won, five tackles, three clearances, two interceptions, one shot assist and the fact he completed 11 of his 14 attempted forward passes evidenced his tidy body of work. 

Vastly experienced, able to play on either flank and looking likely to remain on the French Riviera, the 28-year-old former Ligue 1 winner will be a fine asset to Kovac’s side. Having worked with many elite managers such as Carlo Ancelotti, Leonardo Jardim, Rene Girard, Marco Silva and Didier Deschamps (where he was part of the 2018 World Cup winning squad), his knowledge and nous should also be vital in helping Monaco’s gifted crop of youngsters.

Clearly seen as an important member of the squad, the return of Sidibe, despite all the recent transfer talk surrounding him, is looking promising for both the player and the club, with his performance vs. Metz giving him a promising base to build from.