Benoit Badiashile followed on from his masterclass against PSV Eindhoven in the Europa League, where he remarkably won all nine of his defensive duels, by putting in a superb shift vs. Reims.
Although Monaco drew both of these clashes, the youngster’s pair of man of the match performances has been a huge highlight for Badiashile, who just last week reached 100 appearances for Les Monegasques.
While there’s no denying his immense talent, there have been a few occasions where his lapses in concentration have cost his team or gifted chances to the opposition, which he’s been duly criticised for. But, it is, however, important to remember that despite his vast experience, he’s still just 20, thus making it completely understandable that he’s committed the odd error.
Indeed, by setting the bar so high for himself when he’s on top of the game, this has consequently seen him harshly judged when he does have an off match.
Upon watching the French U21 international’s outstanding body of work in Monaco’s stalemate with Reims, there was certainly nothing to be disappointed about, for he was nigh on flawless.
Defending with assuredness, clarity and confidence, Reims’ attackers found little joy when the ball ventured into his designated area of operation.
Alert at tracking runners into the box, in behind and when they dropped deep, it was vital how he’d usually get touchtight or get an arm across to either place them under intense pressure or impede their momentum. The fact he’s so fast and reads the play coherently was key too, meaning he was wide awake to threats.
Being forceful and aggressive in his duels, something he recently mentioned he needs to improve in, this saw him regain possession nicely with some robust interventions. Reacting quickly to loose balls, attacking the ball with conviction and putting his body on the line to block shots, Badiashile’s desire was clear to see.
Keeping the likes of Hugo Ekitike and Nathanael Mbuku pretty quiet, his physicality and athleticism held him in good stead to deal with Reims’ frontline.
Typically sound in his positioning and getting his body posture spot on so he could powerfully shift across, step up or drop back, this was vital towards his success. As a result, he shrewdly cut out crosses and cutbacks, dropped back to cover behind a teammate, quickly monitored runners, stopped counters before they could develop and persistently adapted his position depending on the situation.
Cutting out danger expertly while keeping his opponents at bay, his 14 ball recoveries, six clearances, five interceptions and the fact he won 10 of his 14 duels punctuated his strong stopping output.
Seeing as Monaco dominated possession for large spells of this encounter, countless opportunities arose for him to show his class on the ball.
To start with his passing, and the elegant defender who boasts a wand of a left foot kickstarted many passages with his accuracy and incision. So comfortable and calm in possession, this, in combination with his super vision and execution, saw him constantly help his team beat Reims’ first line of pressure.
As can be seen in the graphics below, the way he switched the play, launched some lovely diagonal through balls and found teammates between the lines was a joy to behold. Weighting his passes ideally and accurately, so his teammates could inherit possession on their preferred foot cleanly, added to his value.
The way he facilitated third man combinations, disguised his passes using his body shape and eyes and was never afraid to go for the expansive option were extra highlights.
Completing 72 of his 77 overall passes, 10 of 12 passes into the final third and eight of nine attempted long balls demonstrated what an asset his distribution was.
Also impacting proceedings with his dribbling, Badiashile’s ball carrying was full of upside. With Monaco often enjoying a 3v2 overload in their first line, this gave him plentiful opportunities to drive forward into the vacant half spaces.
From here, his powerful surges not only allowed him to gain territory, but also to draw out pressers to disorganise Reims’ shape, which meant a free man could be accessed directly or via the third man principle.
Proving empathically why he’s so highly regarded across European football, his multifaceted shift encapsulated what a talent he is.
Buoyed by his recent efforts that have been integral towards Monaco keeping two straight clean sheets, he’ll be hoping this can be the catalyst for him to find some prolonged consistency.
Once he can do that, then there’s every chance he can elevate himself into a truly elite defender. Considering he’s still just 20 and already playing with a maturity that belies his tender years, time is certainly on his side to fulfill his tremendous potential.