For only the fourth time in the last 20 years, a French side has made into the last four of the Champions League, and quite honestly, now that they’ve made it this far, defeating the likes of Tottenham, Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund along the way, they will not be an easy draw for any of the other three sides.
Right now, no matter who they get in the last four, Monaco will not be playing with any pressure on their shoulders, since they have already performed above and beyond what was expected of them. Furthermore, this is a side that plays with such attacking flair, is capable of scoring at any moment and has an 18-year-old up front, in Kylian Mbappé, who can seemingly do and be anything he wants.
Treble glory for Monaco?
This is a side that now has a good chance of completing a treble, given that they are also on top of Ligue 1 in a tight race with Paris Saint-Germain and also have a semi-final coming up in the cup against their aforementioned rivals. Let’s not forget that though they have had funding from their Russian oligarch owner, Dmitry Rybolovlev and benefit from the tax status which the principality has, they have a net transfer income of just over £70 million over the last three seasons (which compares to PSG’s net expenditure of £154 million). They aren’t one of Europe’s big hitters, as shown by the fact that it’s likely that they will sell some of their players this summer, but they keep on adapting to these losses and continue to get results on the pitch.
At the beginning of the season, nobody saw this happening. Mbappé (who wasn’t in the team to start with) has progressed at a rate that nobody could have imagined, while alongside him, Radamel Falcao has rediscovered the form that saw him become one of the world’s best.
On the front foot
But it’s not just up front where they are impressive. Their centre halves of Kamil Glik and Jemerson were nobody’s idea of Champions League semi-finalists back in August, but they have shown them to be a very good defensive pairing, particularly important when you have to play on the counter attack as Monaco sometimes do. Benjamin Mendy and Djibril Sidibé have become France’s first choice full back pairing, while their midfield teammate Tiemoué Bakayoko has graduated into the national side himself.
Alongside you have either the Brazilian Fabinho, -the man you don’t notice when he’s there, but you notice when he’s not, such is his importance- and Bernardo Silva, who has possibly been the best player in Ligue 1 this year. Thomas Lemar is another player who, too, has progressed enormously this year.
Their style of play is what makes them the most exciting side in Europe right now. Playing almost in a 4-2-4, they resort to some good old fashioned basics of playing two men up front, and getting plenty of crosses into the box, with Falcao particularly dangerous through his near post runs. They get plenty of men forward, and therefore get plenty of goals (141 of them at the last count). As we saw against Manchester City, they can give you a chance, but they’ll get their own, and if that’s not an entertaining watch for a neutral fan, then I don’t know what is.
Could Monaco win a treble? Let us know in the comments section below.