Feature

Upside to be extracted from AS Monaco’s offensive mechanics despite loss vs. OM

Despite producing a terrific comeback to take the lead 20 minutes from time, AS Monaco ultimately suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat against Olympique de Marseille, as the away team bagged two late goals to ultimately secure all three points.

Even though the result was far from ideal, there were still many positives to be extracted from Monaco’s output on the attacking end especially, with Philippe Clement’s mechanics causing frequent havoc for their adversaries. 

With this in mind, here’s three tactical takeaways from the pulsating clash at the Stade Louis II from Les Monegasques’ offensive gameplan.

Monaco exploit the channels expertly

Clement and his staff had clearly prepared diligently for this match, for they knew that Igor Tudor’s wing-backs would press high onto Monaco full-backs, which would leave huge spaces down the channels to be exploited by their attackers.

Monaco duly exposed their foes in this area on numerous occasions, with them particularly taking advantage down their right, where Krepin Diatta could expose Marseille’s central defenders for pace. Seeing as Axel Disasi at right-back would typically take up deeper positions near the central defenders during build-up, this meant OM left wing-back, Nuno Tavares, had to cover huge spaces when motoring out to press him. As a result, this left plentiful room behind for Diatta to shrewdly run into, which he did so frequently to stretch the Marseille rearguard.

Disasi drawing out Tavares before finding Diattta wide in space
Diatta expertly taking advantage of the space behind Tavares
Disasi drawing out Tavares before Volland finds Diatta to complete the third man combination

The role of Wissam Ben Yedder and Kevin Volland deserves mention too, for they’d expertly pin their markers, who were wary to leave the dynamic duo due to them not wanting to leave them unmarked, thus amplifying the room Diatta had available. The Senegalese livewire’s crafty runs would also serve as a decoy to create gaps between defenders for his colleagues to target, as he repaid the space generating favour effectively.

Diatta attracting his marker to generate the huge gap for Volland to exploit. Also note how Ben Yedder and Disasi draw their markers too.

Causing persistent disconnects and dilemmas for their opponents with their coordinated movement, Monaco’s opener owed much to Diatta’s smart depth run into the space vacated by Tavares, with the speedster latching onto Aleksandr Golovin’s through ball before being brought down by Leonardo Balerdi inside the box to win the penalty that Ben Yedder coolly converted.

Golovin’s dangerous through ball to Diatta that led to the penalty

Golovin’s slick movement

Proving a menacing presence throughout from his nominal left wing role, Golovin’s movement was a real thorn in the side of Tudor’s team. Given licence to drift infield and occupy strategically important zones between the lines and in the half spaces, he was extremely effective in terms of connecting play, getting within close proximity to the forwards to combine and breathing life into Monaco’s offensive forays.

Golovin’s Heat Map vs. OM
Monaco’s average positions vs. OM

Recognising nearby markers were either preoccupied with Caio Henrique or the two forwards, the 26-year-old knew opponents would usually be cautious to follow him centrally. Subsequently, the little master was afforded much freedom to stamp his mark on proceedings, as he expertly read the play to form numerical and positional superiorities to progress attacks and ensure he had separation to use his passing and dribbling wizardry.

Golovin craftily finding space between the lines in a forward facing posture
Golovin venturing infield to create a 4v3 in midfield
Astutely timed central run by Golovin as Monaco’s forwards pin multiple markers

The fact his indented movement was instrumental towards both of Monaco’s goals served as a testament to his quality. For the first one, his drop into central midfield gave Alexander Nubel a fine option in build-up. The German keeper then duly found him before Golovin masterfully controlled the ball and launched a dangerous through ball into Diatta’s path, who went on to earn the aforementioned spot-kick.

Golovin smartly dropping deep to receive from Nubel

Then, for the second, his intelligent infield positioning saw him form a vital 3v2 in midfield to consequently receive Mohamed Camara’s pass in acres of space ahead of the OM rearguard. Having scanned his surroundings, the Russian then immediately turned and surged towards the final third before supplying a measured through ball into Volland. The German proceeded to cap off the incisive passage by applying a clinical finish to give ASM the lead.

Golovin expertly dropping deep between the lines to form a 3v2 ahead of Monaco’s second
Masterful through ball assist for Volland

A key piece of Clement’s framework going forward, Golovin yet again underlined why he’s one of the first names on the Belgian’s team sheet right now with another outstanding performance.

Disasi’s threat

Moved to right-back for this high-profile clash, a station he’s familiar with and has often shone in (namely against Paris Saint-Germain in 2021 during a famous win), Disasi hardly put a foot wrong, putting in a polished display.

Aside from being a huge weapon for set-pieces at both ends, being vital towards luring out Tavares and executing his defensive actions with a nice blend of brains and brawn, he also played a crucial role in helping Monaco bypass the OM press.

While he was typically more reserved in his positioning when Monaco passed out from the back, when Nubel went to go long from goal kicks, Disasi would notably push higher towards the half way line. From here, he offered a brilliant target for Nubel to pinpoint, as he clearly enjoyed the aerial ascendancy over Tavares to help his team win second balls high up.

Disasi winning the headed flick-on to Diatta from the goal kick

Moreover, due to Tavares pushing out to mark him, this left space for Diatta to get on the end of headed flick-ons by Disasi. In addition, Monaco’s other attackers and central midfielders could also position themselves accordingly around the ball knowing this approach was being used and that Disasi would use his size advantage and aptitude in this regard to win the majority of his duels.

Disasi acting as a fine target from the goal kick

“Axel had a good game against Red Star Belgrade in this position. It was also important in the set-pieces to have strong defenders, because we knew that Olympique de Marseille is strong in this area – like us, with Benoit, Axel and Guillermo in particular. I think it was the right choice to make, because Axel had a great game tonight,” gleamed Clement on Disasi’s polished body of work. 

Some wonderful news surrounding Disasi then filtered through following the match when it was announced that he’d been selected for France’s World Cup squad due to Presnel Kimpembe’s withdrawal. Having played every minute of Ligue 1 action and operated at an extremely high level all season, his call-up is a fitting reward for his magnificent form, as he becomes the 72nd Monaco to be called up for Les Bleus.