Even though AS Monaco could only draw 1-1 with Strasbourg despite dominating much of the match, there were still some positives to be extracted from their performance on a tactical level. With this in mind, this gives us the opportunity to focus on three tactical takeaways from the hotly contested clash at the Stade Louis II.
Centre midfielders key towards wide overloads
Seeing as Strasbourg were keen on protecting central areas in their 5-3-2 defensive shape, Niko Kovac instructed central midfielders Jean Lucas and Youssouf Fofana (depending which side the ball was on) to drop into the left and right half spaces respectively to help them progress smoothly.
It was also important to note when they were in these temporary fullback positions, the actual fullbacks Caio Henrique and Ruben Aguilar could then enjoy the freedom to surge ahead knowing Lucas and Fofana were providing cover.
Allowing Monaco to enjoy strategic overloads in wide areas and lure out Strasbourg’s wide central midfielders, Les Monegasques’ central midfield duo were key in Monaco’s wingers and advanced fullbacks being able to form 2v1s against the opposition fullback. In addition, how forwards Kevin Volland and Wissam Ben Yedder would pin the nearby centre backs further compounded issues, for this further isolated the Strasbourg fullbacks.
As a result, Monaco were able to exploit their advantage here to find joy with their smartly devised mechanics to constantly place Les Coureurs’ backline under stress.
Whenever Julien Stephan’s Strasbourg attempted to build out from the back, Monaco would look to implement a high press to stifle the away team. Eager to regain possession high so they could immediately recover the ball close to goal, Kovac’s men did a solid job of harrying their adversaries in the first half especially.
Coming up against Stephan’s three at the back shape with a holding midfielder closeby, Ben Yedder and Volland would usually be joined by Aleksandr Golovin or Sofiane Diop to monitor them. Fofana and Lucas would mark the remaining two central mids (Ibrahima Sissoko and Adrien Thomasson), while the fullbacks would jump upfield to track Strasbourg’s wingbacks.
Axel Disasi and Guillermo Maripan would then be left to take care of Habib Diallo and Ludovic Ajorque.
Aiming to usher them mostly towards the right touchline to compress the space they had to work with (as can be seen in the graphic below), Les Rouge et Blanc did so nicely by shifting across aggressively to use the sideline as an extra defender.
In such cases, it was notable how Monaco would leave the far sided central defender free in the knowledge they couldn’t be accessed, thus allowing them to have a spare defender to help with Strasbourg’s strike duo.
Exploiting the channels
Another method of attack that bore fruit for Monaco was by getting at Strasbourg down the channels. Knowing that Strasbourg’s wingbacks would jump to press Monaco’s fullbacks, this subsequently opened the channels for the wingers, Golovin and Diop, to target with shrewd runs.
While a simple approach, the way the ball near forward would occupy their nearby central defender, in combination with the intelligent run timing by Golovin and Diop, ensured Monaco found frequent success.
To deal with the threat, Strasbourg would consequently have to shuttle across a centre back to combat the runners, which meant they lost central compactness. This then generated central gaps within Strasbourg’s backline for the likes of Volland and Ben Yedder to explore.
Generating danger while manipulating their foes’ organisation to ultimately create space centrally in the final third, Monaco certainly deserved credit for their intelligent execution of this tactic.