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Nubel a shining light in tough loss vs. Lyon

Keeping his team in the match and the scoreline respectable, Alexander Nubel was unquestionably AS Monaco’s best afield in their tough 2-0 loss against Olympique Lyon.

A shining light in a largely disappointing night for Niko Kovac’s men, his quality body of work deservedly drew praise from his manager, who was clearly delighted to see him proving his class. “He is getting better and better, he made some superb saves, especially in the first half. He is in good shape, he has more and more confidence in himself, which is important for a goalkeeper and for the rest of the team. When a goalie is able to pull off tough shots, that’s good,” Kovac explained.

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Enjoying such a positive night between the posts against one of the premier Ligue 1 teams will give him a huge confidence boost too, especially considering what a challenging start to the season he’s endured since joining the club in the summer.

The fact his Croatian boss even came to his defence recently when he was coming in for heavy criticism after some difficult matches shows he has the faith of his manager. “Lately, we’ve had some problems when building out from the back but it’s not his fault alone. It’s an error to think that it all rests on one player. There’s a whole system, a team,” he asserted.

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“We need the fans’ support and he has mine. That’s the most important thing. I know he can do better, I know his qualities. He has to be more calm, he could be better in that department but he has to be more confident in himself. 

“For me, he hasn’t made any big errors and he’ll show his best form in the weeks and months to come. I’m sure of it. Like I say, he’s a smart and rational guy. He might give off the impression that he’s lacking in confidence but it will improve once he’s made a few saves. Alex has to start fresh and not put too much pressure on himself. He has to forget it all, even if it’s not easy.”

Nubel and Kovac will definitely be hoping this exemplary outing will be the catalyst for an upturn in form, for he displayed exactly why he’s so highly regarded and why he’s the man considered to be Manuel Neuer’s heir for Germany and at Bayern Munich once his two-year loan with Monaco ends.

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Making a host of classy saves to repel many of Lyon’s dangerous efforts on goal, there was a lot to like about how he remained calm, concentrated and executed his stops. Not letting his guard down and remaining aware of where best to position himself in relation to the location of the ball holder and what their preferred foot was, this gave him a strong base from which to work from.

First called into real action in the 22nd minute to deal with an effort from Karl Toko Ekambi, it was notable how he remained balanced, focused and on the balls of his feet ready to launch himself to save the shot. Upon reviewing the action, it was pivotal how he adjusted well to the striker cutting infield onto his non preferred foot by making a small step to his right, knowing Toko Ekambi would be aiming for the right corner of the goal.

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Smart save as he reads Toko Ekambi’s intentions well and sets himself well to make the stop

Just three minutes later, Nubel then produced his best piece of work of the evening, with him reacting swiftly to get down and across while at full stretch to palm away Toko Ekambi’s well directed header. Needing all of his wingspan and power from his push off, this save epitomised what a gifted net custodian he is.

Amazing full stretch save to keep out the header

His third especially memorable moment came in the second half, where he rushed off his line with conviction and bravery to block Tino Kadewere’s close range attempt. Backing himself and demonstrating immense clarity in his decision making process, this saved capped off his excellent output. 

Rushing off his line with his authority to make a brave stop

Although the aforementioned saves were the standouts, the way he strongly commanded his area, coherently came off his line to claim crosses, dealt with minor threats with minimal fuss and constantly communicated with his defenders also deserved mention. 

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Getting down across to execute the stop
Setting himself well and alert to the situation to comfortably make the save
Excellent judgement and bravery to claim the cross

Helpless for both of Lyon’s goals, the fact he only conceded two goals from an Expected Goals Conceded Reading of 2.97 underlined his outstanding display. 

Meanwhile, in terms of his exertions when Monaco had the ball, much upside could be gained from how his presence helped form a 3v2 overload during build up and how he passed the ball soundly over a range of distances with either foot.

Some extra numbers of note come from the fact he completed five saves (three of which were reflex stops) and hit nine accurate long passes.

Nubel’s save map

Getting better as the season progresses, both he and the club will be hoping his latest showing will be a good sign of things to come. 

Clearly desperate to succeed and fulfil his massive potential, he’ll be eager to use this as a springboard to truly stamp his mark on the French Riviera, on a night where he emphatically silenced his doubters with his masterclass on the big stage.