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AS Monaco end successful Europa League group stage with a draw vs. Sturm Graz

AS Monaco
AS Monaco

AS Monaco ended their Europa League group stage exertions with a 1-1 draw vs. Sturm Graz away from home.

The Match 

Having already qualified and secured top spot in the group, the result importantly meant Niko Kovac’s men remained undefeated throughout all six matches, which is an impressive achievement considering they also had Real Sociedad and PSV Eindhoven to contend with.

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Giving many young players some valuable action, the likes of Wilson Isidor, Chrislain Matsima, Strahinja Pavlovic, Eliot Matazo and Radoslaw Majecki were all handed starts for this one.

Beginning the game in unfortunate fashion by conceding a penalty through a handball by Pavlovic, which was converted by Jakob Jantscher, Les Monegasques then levelled the ledger courtesy of Kevin Volland, who kept up his rich vein of form.

While Monaco weren’t at their best with their heavily rotated team, they still had some good chances to claim all three points. But ultimately, the away team couldn’t find a winner, leaving them to settle for a credible draw.

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Kovac content

“We have given some players the opportunity to have playing time, against a quality opponent and in a European competition. We have fielded a competitive team and I made a few changes at half-time because on Sunday we face PSG,” Kovac explained.  

“As for the youngsters, especially Chrislain and Strahinja, it was the first time they were lined up together so not everything was perfect, but that’s to be expected. Every minute is important to them, so I am still satisfied and happy with their performance. At the start we said it was a Champions League level group and we finished first and undefeated , with 12 points, so the results are very positive, we are in the right direction.”

Matazo impresses

Taking his opportunity nicely, Matazo produced a very positive performance, on a night where his determination and quality saw him shine. Solid with his passing and full of energy with his defensive output, the Belgian was definitely one of Monaco’s better performers.

By the numbers, his eight ball recoveries, five duels won, three successful dribbles, three accurate long balls and two clearances underlined his all-round contribution. 

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PSG awaits

Undefeated in eight games in all competitions, Monaco head into their colossal clash with Paris Saint-Germain with confidence they can get a result against one of the elite teams in Europe. 

The fact they beat the Parisian giants twice in Ligue 1 last campaign should definitely be something they can use as extra motivation, in what should be a captivating game from start to finish.