Despite holding their own for large portions of their 5-2 loss against Paris Saint-Germain, it just wasn’t to be for AS Monaco, who committed too many mistakes that were clinically punished by this star-studded PSG outfit.
While the outcome was from ideal on a night where the scoresheet didn’t accurately reflect the on-field happenings, as Adi Hutter mentioned in his post-match comments, there was still plenty of upside to be extracted from Monaco’s display.
With this in mind, here’s three tactical takeaways from the pulsating clash at the Parc des Princes from Les Monegasques’ valiant showing.
Balogun underlines his quality
Eager to stamp his mark on the big stage, Folarin Balogun certainly made his presence felt against Luis Enrique’s men, as he underlined what an asset he is for Hutter’s ASM.
Playing a key role in both of Monaco’s goals, firstly with his intense pressing that forced Gianluigi Donnarumma into an errant pass that Takumi Minamino intercepted before scoring, and secondly when he combined power and finesse to finish superbly past Donnarumma, this encapsulated what a force to be reckoned with he is.
Causing constant problems for the PSG backline with his intelligent movement as well, it was impressive to see him drop deep smartly to connect play and hold the ball up, plus make a host of astute runs in behind (just like for his goal as seen below).
Waiting for his moment to pounce when defenders were drawn out of position or if gaps were available between markers, his timing and angling was a real highlight even though he wasn’t always used.
The way he shrewdly adjusted his receiving posture to protect the ball, engaged in some slick combination link play, pinned opponents to make room for teammates and served as a fantastic target for long balls added to his impact in a clash where he once again illustrated his class.
Mbappe dealt with admirably
Although PSG superstar Kylian Mbappe still bagged a penalty and had many promising moments, Les Monegasques deserve credit for how they dealt with his threat to minimise his footprint on proceedings.
To start with, the job done by Wilfried Singo was very commendable, for the speedy stopper was able to match Mbappe for pace and remained attentive to his trademark depth runs.
Moreover, how he kept his focus and concentration to manage 1v1 scenarios, frequently used his strength to physically impose himself on the World Cup winner and got touchtight whenever he dropped deep with his back to goal so he couldn’t turn or enjoy a clean first touch helped nullify the masterful attacker.
Other reasons behind Monaco’s ability to keep him at bay for long periods was how Vanderson, and others too, would help out by double or triple teaming him, plus from how ASM were aware of his infield ventures to pass on the marking assignment.
To escape the attention, Mbappe would often rotate inside or occasionally to the other flank, where he could get some reprieve from Singo’s tracking and the away team’s coherent collective approach.
By the numbers, the fact Mbappe lost possession nine times, only won 50% of all his duels (11 of 22) and could only muster four touches inside the box (well below his season average of 7.69 per 90) indicated aptly that he didn’t have things all his own way.
Limiting his influence effectively, which is a task that’s often easier said than done, there was much to like about the individual job done by Singo and how Hutter’s framework ensured support was present to deal with Mbappe.
Golovin’s genius still shines through
ASM’s playmaking genius Aleksandr Golovin was able to influence this clash in customary style through his remarkable technical skills and clever movement.
Finding space expertly between the lines to connect the midfield and attack and form ideal 3v2 overloads, it was a joy to watch him exploit openings to breathe life into attacks.
Surveying his surroundings wisely to be awake to opponents and his teammates, this was the catalyst for him to occupy such quality positions. Taking full advantage of the indecision from PSG’s defenders, who were often pinned or unwilling to step out, this ensured he frequently wreaked havoc centrally and in the half spaces.
The silky skilled wizard’s passing was on full show too, for his wicked set pieces and ingenuity to create chances and unbalance the PSG rearguard added to his menace. Be it slick through balls, nifty interplay, incisive switches of play or penetrative line breaking deliveries, Golovin’s incision shone through regularly.
Embarking on some crafty dribbles to generate room for him to execute his actions and to manufacture space for colleagues, this amplified his worth in what was a solid body of work by him despite his team falling short in a match that was decided by fine margins.