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Diatta decisive in AS Monaco’s vital win vs. Strasbourg

Krepin-Diatta-AS-Monaco-min
AS Monaco

Starting his first match for AS Monaco since November 2021 in Les Monegasques’ Ligue 1 opener against Strasbourg, Krepin Diatta certainly repaid his manager’s faith by putting in an impressive display.

Having struggled immensely with injuries since joining Monaco back in January of 2021, which has seen him miss a whopping 46 games, it was great to see him back fully fit and firing. Seeing as he was on the sidelines for the majority of last season after suffering a devastating ACL knee injury vs. Lille on the 19th of November, returning so successfully in his first competitive game back was a joy for all associated with the club.

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Diatta even fittingly marked the occasion by scoring an absolutely masterful volley to open the scoring. But his performance was about far more than just the aforementioned moment of magic, for he underlined why he’s such a dangerous and multifaceted player with his movement, technical skills and interactions with his teammates also shining brightly.

To start with his movement, and this formed a sound foundation for him to be such a threat. Stationed on the right wing in Philippe Clement’s nominal 4-2-3-1 shape, the Senegalese international did a top job of stretching the Strasbourg backline with his smartly timed and angled runs in behind even if he wasn’t always picked out.

Aware of when his marker stepped out of shape, was caught ball watching or was preoccupied by a teammate, Diatta pounced smartly to get the jump on his tracker. The fact he’s so fast and embarked on his runs when his teammate had the ball on their preferred foot and appeared to be well placed to spot him was notable too.

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Intelligent depth run as Lienard steps out
Nicely curved run in behind
Slick run in behind to provide a great outlet
Smartly timed run in behind to catch out his marker

So good at stretching the opposition vertically and horizontally when in a high and wide position, this importantly ensured he could be isolated in advantageous 1v1s and draw his man towards him, which also subsequently created disconnects in the Strasbourg backline to be exploited by colleagues.

Drawing his man from his high and wide post to make room for Embolo

It was notable how his partners in crime upfront pinned opponents to generate room for him to use as well, as they parlayed cohesively to help one another make headway while unbalancing Strasbourg’s rearguard.

Diatta making a clever run in behind as Embolo draws two markers

The coverage provided behind him from right back Ruben Aguilar was crucial too, for being deeper allowed him to offer structural security in case of a turnover so Diatta could enjoy freedom in advanced zones.

When the ball was on the opposite flank, the 23-year-old would frequently drift infield, with this opening up the possibility for him to link up with the likes of Sofiane Diop and Breel Embolo and to attack the box with crafty blindside runs into the box to be an outlet for crosses against stationary, ball facing foes.

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Crafty blindside run towards the back post

Showing good awareness when dropping deeper to support play, knowing when to form overloads in wide areas and when edging centrally into the half spaces or between the lines, this added some vital variety to his game to keep his markers guessing.

Forming a 4v3 before feeding Diop between the lines

His positioning played a key role for his goal as well, for Clement’s instructions to have him located near the edge of the box to pick up rebounds paid dividends, allowing him to be perfectly situated to unleash his sublime volley home. “Often when I was in Bruges, where I knew the coach and the same staff, they pushed me, because I often score when I try my luck in this situation. I scored a few volleys like that in Belgium,” he explained when asked about his goal.

“Yesterday in training I scored in exactly the same way. It’s something that comes naturally to me, and I’m very happy to have succeeded today. When I struck the ball, I immediately felt that it was going to go in! I had already started running to celebrate (smiles).”

Diatta’s positioning from the corner prior to his goal
Sensational volleyed finish from the edge of the box

When it came to his work with the ball at his feet, Diatta did many positive things here too. Proving a challenging customer for the likes of Alexander Djiku and Dimitri Lienard, his wicked acceleration and pace, close control, sharp changes of speed and direction and nifty shimmies ensured he was a tough man to keep tabs on.

Especially dangerous with time and space to run into, his ball carrying was certainly a thorn in Strasbourg’s side, with the unpredictable and explosive Diatta producing the goods on his way to completing six progressive runs, all five of his five attempted dribbles and winning two fouls.

Also neat and tidy with his passing, not only did he knit play together smoothly with some slick one and two touch passing, but he also supplied some measured through balls in behind to oblige runners, found the feet of his attackers and recirculated possession coherently.

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Tidy pass to find Martins between the lines facing forward

Almost always making the right decisions when to release the ball or when to drive upfield with the ball at his feet, plus in regards to when and where to move, there was much to admire about his menace in the final third. Some extra numbers of note that underline this arose from his six touches inside the box, four shots, three chances created and that he had a 95% passing accuracy.

Meanwhile, on the defensive end, the way he pressed aggressively, used his cover shadow to block passing lanes behind him, tracked back diligently and knew when to step up and press Djiku, push out to Lienard or tuck in to help monitor a nearby midfielder when the ball was on the other side deserved mention too.

“I’m very happy for him! He has worked very hard over the past eight months, and for this I would also like to congratulate the medical staff. He played almost the whole game today and that’s a good thing. I know Krepin well and I know that he can still grow enormously in the months and years to come,” gleamed a delighted Clement after the 2-1 triumph.

An overjoyed and grateful Diatta then gave his thoughts on his wonderful day at the office, stating: “Personally it was a joy to return to the pitch for me, because I’ve worked hard.

“Everyone was behind me, the club put me in very good conditions. I knew I was going to come back strong, because I was very well supported, be it by my family, the physiotherapists and especially Jerome Palestri, with whom I worked for six months. I dedicate this goal to him and to all those who contributed to my return. My work alone was not enough. And I won’t forget that.”

Injecting plenty of dynamism and energy into Monaco’s offensive game, his presence was instrumental towards his team grabbing all three points to kick off their new Ligue 1 campaign.

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Following his encouraging body of work in his first league game in 260 days, the plan will now be looking to build on this moving forward, as he’ll be hoping this confidence boosting display will be the catalyst for him to get back to his free flowing best as soon as possible.

Still only 23 and with so much scope to take his game to another level, the hugely talented attacker will now be desperately hoping he can just remain healthy in order to fulfil his immense potential.

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