Considering he hadn't featured for AS Monaco for roughly two months, Benoit Badiashile deserves enormous praise for putting in such an accomplished shift against one of Ligue 1's most dangerous offensive units.
Looking right at home back in the heart of defence for Les Monegasques under the eyes of the intimidating Olympiqe de Marseille fans inside the Stade Velodrome, he rose to the occasion. "Benoit brought a lot to the team tonight. It was only the second time I had the opportunity to field him since my arrival. We have a lot of quality in defence with Axel Disasi and Vanderson, who also played a very good game tonight. This is due to the work of the whole staff and the whole squad," explained Philippe Clement.
Axel Disasi, his central defensive partner, then added: "I wanted to welcome the return of Benoit, who was coming back from a long injury. He immediately got up to speed. It's not easy to return to playing at the Velodrome, against a good team and he answered here."
Repaying the faith Clement showed in him to hand him a start, the gifted 20-year-old hardly put a foot wrong throughout his 78 minutes afield in the 1-0 victory. A very impressive feat considering he was up against the experienced strike duo of Arkadiusz Milik and Cedric Bakambu.
Defending with assuredness and extremely attentive to what was going around him, it was admirable how well he handled the aforementioned threats, plus the likes of Gerson and Dimitri Payet whenever they ventured into his designated area of operation.
Coping with the intelligent movement and physicality of his foes, the way he aimed to get touchtight so they couldn't enjoy easy touches or turn him was crucial towards his success. As shown by the images below, the Frenchman's awareness to his opponents meant he could nip in and cause turnovers directly or indirectly by causing sloppy touches.
Constantly scanning his surroundings and typically in a balanced, side-on and slightly crouched body posture helped him greatly too, allowing him to identify runners and powerfully move in all directions. Indeed, this helped him particularly when tracking runners in behind or into the box, plus when covering for a teammate or taking on the marking assignment of a runner from midfield.
The above also benefited him when he was dealing with crosses and long balls, for he could quickly recognise not only runners but also the flight path of the ball while getting into an ideal stance to clear the danger using his heading prowess.
Constantly altering and adjusting his position to deal with nearby danger or cover spaces to ensure compactness and structural security, this was vital in dealing with the multifaceted movement of Marseille's attackers, who frequently switched positions and smartly varied their movement. As a result, he duly knew when to drop back, shift across, step out, move diagonally, monitor an opponent or help a colleague.
Performing authoritatively and happily putting his body on the line, the languid stopper used his long legs to block shots or chime in with interventions and his arms to destabilise the man in possession.
Slotting back in alongside Disasi and resuming their good understanding, Badiashile was certainly an instrumental figure towards AS Monaco keeping a coveted clean sheet. In addition, the fact he helped restrict Milik and Bakambu to a combined total of three shots, two dribbles, four forward passes and three passes into the final third further underlined his and Monaco's admirable stopping effort. Moreover, seeing as the two Marseille frontmen lost the ball 30 times further demonstrated their struggles.
Individually, Badiashile's 12 ball recoveries 10 (of 14) duels won, five loose ball wins and four interceptions accentuated his strong output.
Following his confidence boosting outing, Badiashile was full of praise for those around him for assisting him to make a smooth comeback. "I felt very good," he said. "Returning to the Velodrome was not easy, but the coach helped me to perform. Axel and my teammates also helped me a lot and it was easier. In the end, I had to go out because I was tired but, for a comeback, I'm happy".
Coming back at an extremely important stage of Monaco's season, where they're battling to challenge for a Champions League qualification place and eager to progress in the Europa League, Clement will be delighted to have a player of Badiashile's calibre back at his disposal.
Indeed, his polished efforts against Marseille showed precisely why he's such a highly regarded asset both within the club and across all of European football.