Axel Disasi ended 2021 by putting in a solid shift in the heart of AS Monaco’s defence in their superb 2-1 win over Rennes.
Having endured a challenging opening to the game, where he misplaced some passes and was caught out of position in the lead up to Rennes’ opener, he recovered impressively after his rocky start.
Displaying his leadership skills, determination and ferocity in the duels, Disasi ended up being a key presence in preventing Rennes from scoring again.
Enjoying an entertaining battle with mostly Gaetan Laborde but also Martin Terrier and Benjamin Bourigeaud at times, he handled their varied threat competently for the most part. Being so physical and athletic, Disasi was able to hold his own in battles of strength and swiftly track runners using his speed across the turf.
Good at unbalancing opponents in 1v1s or by getting touchtight when they dropped deep so they couldn’t turn him, the bruising stopper held his own in such confrontations.
Quick to spot danger and be alert to runs in behind, he used his pace and awareness to typically keep runners in check, help a teammate or slow down transitions. The fact he often took up a side-on posture on the balls of his feet, helped him move powerfully backwards, forwards, sideways or diagonally.
Although he made the odd positional error such as the one mentioned earlier, the way he dropped back to cover space left behind when a teammate stepped forward, shifted across to help his team remain compact and was awake to threats in the box were positives.
The way he communicated with his teammates to keep them in shape and led by example with his commitment offered extra upside. By the numbers, his 10 ball recoveries, six interceptions, four clearances and the fact he won seven of his 10 attempted duels punctuated his impact.
Meanwhile, offensively speaking, the former Reims star made some quality contributions too. Passing the ball crisply, Disasi played his part in helping Monaco build out from the back. On top of recycling possession calmly while waiting for a weakness in the opposition to arise, his through balls and aerial passing were major highlights.
Sharp at identifying runners and if the pass was viable, he struck his passes with confidence and clarity to put his targets in advantageous areas to wreak havoc. Weighting these passes beautifully and with accuracy, the below graphics offer a testament to his work in this regard, in a match where he completed 10 passes into the final third (of 13 attempted) and struck eight accurate long balls.
Disasi’s dribbling caught the eye as well, for he shrewdly recognised when spaces were available for him to charge forward into. Seeing as Monaco often built with a three at the back when Djibril Sidibe stayed deep or in a two with a midfielder supporting, this gave Les Monegasques a 3v2 overload vs. Rennes’ first line of pressure.
Disasi was only too happy to carry the ball upfield from his left sided central defensive post in such cases after they’d disrupted the press. From here, Disasi could then lure out opponents to open passing lanes into free teammates in advanced areas. The image underneath demonstrates this aptly, where he causes dilemmas for the nearby Rennes players if they should stay put or step to him. They ultimately got caught in no man’s land, leaving Disasi with some nice options wide and centrally.
Undoubtedly an integral operator in Niko Kovac’s plans, the man who’s already made 24 appearances in all competitions for Monaco this season yet again showed how good he is. All he needs now is to just keep working on minimising the mistakes.
At 23, time is definitely on his side, though, so he’ll back himself to iron these out in due course as he continues to develop his craft working under the meticulous Croatian manager, who he loves playing for.
“He (Kovac) shows the same image as a coach as when he was a player,” Disasi insisted. “We really feel that he wants to communicate this passion, this rage to us. It gives us all the more confidence, when we see him live the match we want to go to war with him.
“We have been lucky enough to have been able to work together for two years, so in terms of automation there is no need to worry. We play regularly. We have a quality group so there is competition in our position where we only have internationals, and it is this competition that drives us forward.”
Capable of becoming one of the elite central defenders in Europe, if he can address his minor flaws, then there’s every chance the formidable, multifaceted Disasi can do that and be well on the way to fulfilling his tremendous potential.