EUROPEAN football fanatic Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) is back in Ligue 1 on Sunday night, focussing his European NAP on the match-up between Monaco and PSG.
Monaco v PSG | Sunday 11th November 2018, 20:00 | BT Sport
There’s a scene of scene in undeniable chaos in Monte Carlo. Monaco – Ligue 1 champions as recently as 2017 and Champions League semi-finalists in the same campaign – are in full-on crisis mode.
The principality club slumped to an embarrassing 4-0 defeat to Club Bruges on Tuesday night – their worst-ever home loss in European competition – inflicted by a team that had not won a Champions League match for 13 years. Monaco collapsed after conceding the opener and were 3-0 down by the 24th minute.
That devastating defeat arrived just a few hours after billionaire owner, Dmitry Rybolovlev, was taken into police custody for questioning about corruption. To make matters worse, Les Monegasques are in the midst of a crippling injury crisis and could be missing at least 10 players this weekend.
Henry feeling the heat
Thierry Henry arrived at the club keen to make his mark in management but a winless return from five (W0-D2-L3) has already left the French goalscoring sensation bewildered. The Monaco boss bemoaned “schoolboy errors” and a tendency to “give up” as soon as the going got tough on Tuesday.
Henry had hoped to see a positive reaction following an insipid performance and sorry domestic defeat at newly-promoted Reims just days earlier.
Les Rouges et Blancs were without five key starters but the head coach questioned his players’ mental fortitude and desire, claiming a lack of confidence meant his team “involuntarily refused to play” as he wanted and “didn’t know how to create” despite 72% possession and having an extra man for 20 minutes.
Monaco managed a sole on-target attempt and were beaten 1.52 – 0.74 on the Expected Goals battle with a decent proportion of blame laid at Henry’s feet. The Arsenal legend returned to a 3-5-2 system but attempted to use immobile centre-back Kamil Glik on the right of the three-man defence, a move that backfired as the Pole was exposed in the position for the winning goal.
Monaco’s missing men
Unfortunately for Sunday night’s hosts, injuries continue to mount. Glik has been added to a long list of absentees that includes Aleksandr Golovin, Stevan Jovetic, Willem Geubbels, Rony Lopes, Pietro Pellegri, Daniel Subotic, Jean Eudes Aholou and Andrea Raggi. Youri Tielemans is also suspended this weekend.
Only out-of-form Djibril Sidibe, Jemerson and Radamel Falcao are fit and available from their memorable title-winning squad and against Bruges, Monaco’s 18-man squad featured a catalogue of inexperienced teenagers. It’s a situation described by Falcao as, “very disturbing”.
Monaco are winless in 15 across all competitions, have earned four points from their past 11 league outings since the opening day (W0-D4-L7) and are only off the bottom of Ligue 1 on goal difference. Now they face the perilous prospect of a visit from all-conquering PSG, and things could get extra messy in the principality.
Champions to run riot
Thomas Tuchel’s troops ought to stroll to a convincing Sunday night success. The capital club become the first ever club to win all their opening 12 league games in one of Europe’s top five divisions following last Friday’s 2-1 triumph over Lille, extending their advantage to 11 points after only 12 fixtures.
In midweek, Les Parisians fielding the same XI and performed well when picking up a point against Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo. Edinson Cavani and Adrien Rabiot are now pushing for recalls, whilst Presnel Kimpembe is available again following a domestic suspension with PSG able to pick from a full squad.
The visitors have won each of their past seven meetings with Monaco, scoring at least twice on each occasion, and the defending champions should be backed to run riot. With very little obvious value to be gleaned on first glance, it’s worth getting involved with the 8/11 (Ladbrokes) on PSG in the half-time/full-time market.
Les Rouge-et-Bleu have led at the interval in six of those seven victories over Monaco, whilst the home side have trailed at the break in eight of their 10 losses this season. Unsurprisingly, PSG have been ahead by half-time in nine of their 13 wins across the campaign, winning both halves in seven of 12 Ligue 1 outings.
Monaco v PSG – PSG/PSG (8/11 Ladbrokes)