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Analysis: Golovin’s wizardry a huge asset for AS Monaco

Aleksandr Golovin was back to his devastating best in AS Monaco’s crushing 3-0 victory over Lens on the weekend, with his dynamism, intelligence and silky skills being integral towards this exceptional result.

Having enjoyed his best campaign yet in a Monaco shirt last time around, the early signs are promising that he’s set to carry his form into this term too.

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Although it took him until this clash to register his first goal contribution of the crusade, which was a scintillating first-time finish, there’s no doubting he’s still been playing at a good level.

Settling nicely into Adi Hutter’s plans, where he’s relished the offensive midfield role that grants him plenty of freedom to weave his magic and suits him perfectly, this Lens match encapsulated why he’s such a force to be reckoned with.

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Operating as his team’s left sided 10 alongside Takumi Minamino and just behind Wissam Ben Yedder to form a formidable front trio, Golovin was a constant thorn in the side of Les Sang et Or.

Exceptional at spotting vacant spaces and timing when to make his move, his scanning, spatial awareness and reading of the play ensured he took up excellent positions to inject impetus into his team’s forward forays.

A master at exploiting gaps between the lines of Lens’ midfield and defence, centrally and in the half spaces, his aptitude here was vital in him helping knit together play. Moreover, his nous here not only helped link midfield and attack, but it also drew markers to generate room for others, which can be emphatically seen in the images below.

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Smartly receiving between the lines
Dropping deep to create space for the run
Drawing his marker to create room for Minamino

Indeed, his crafty surveying of his surroundings also meant he knew if he could turn, needed to spin away from pressure, had to protect the ball or saw if a slick lay off was on.

Further upside could also be extracted from his dangerous runs into the box and in behind, where he instinctively targeted gaps between defenders and space generated by colleagues luring their opponents out of position, which was precisely the case for his goal.

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Brilliantly timed run in behind before his goal
Masterful finish
Superbly timed run in behind

The way he dovetailed with Caio Henrique in trademark fashion, plus interacted smoothly with the likes of Minamino, Ben Yedder and Youssouf Fofana, who regularly made runs into spaces he’d conjured, elevated his threat.

Checking between the lines before finding Minamino who hits the space
Heat Map vs. Lens

An absolute genius in possession as well, his ball mastery saw him effortlessly weave away from danger with his Velcro-like ball control, composure, resistance to pressure, nifty repertoire of manoeuvres to evade danger, decision making and powers of anticipation.

So comfortable with the ball at his feet, this extended over to his measured passing, with his creativity, vision and execution combining nicely to compound issues for Franck Haise’s men.

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Whether it be engaging in slick interplay in close quarters, moving the ball quickly to teammates in better positions, delivering some precise through balls in behind or breaking the lines with precision, he demonstrated his class here on many occasions.

Measured through ball in behind
Pinpoint pass to breathe life into the counter
Classy through ball over the top
Golovin’s Pass Map vs. Lens

With Monaco flying high and currently sitting pretty atop the Ligue 1 standings having won three of their first four, if Golovin can carry on his consistently elite form from last term ASM will have every chance of achieving their aim of securing European qualification.

A real game changer and nigh on impossible to stop when at the peak of his powers, the difference making genius appears destined to be a major player yet again – with the key caveat being if he can remain fit.

Capable of producing moments of magic many can only dream of, Monaco’s multifaceted magician will be an instrumental figure in powering Hutter’s still undefeated team to the great heights they crave this season.

The exciting thing for ASM is that he should only be even more of a force once he fully adjusts to the demands of Hutter’s philosophy, which is certainly a frightening proposition for any future opponents given what he’s capable of when in optimum conditions for success.