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Ligue 1 – Before Monaco – Brest – Typical team, automatisms and mentality: how Monaco has replaced itself

On January 2, Philippe Clement was officially appointed coach of AS Monaco, to fill the dismissal of Niko Kovac. In mid-March, after an elimination in the knockout stages of the Europa League against Braga – two weeks after that in the semi-finals of the Coupe de France – legitimate questions already arose as to the merits of the decision of the Monegasque leaders. The Team even spoke of a coach already in the hot seat. But, “liberated” from Cup matches, ASM took off in a few weeks. How has the Rock club been able to go from one victory in eight matches in all competitions (between mid-February and mid-March), to eight victories in a row, the best current performance in the five major championships?

Men and automatisms (re)found

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It definitely starts there. Since the very fine victory against Paris on March 20 (3-0), the date of the start of this formidable series, Philippe Clement seems to have found the formula. His standard team is now being built without Djibril Sidibé, Sofiane Diop or Jean Lucas, but with Ruben Aguilar or Aleksandr Golovin. Strong choices. Youssouf Fofana is doing much better than a few months ago, Kévin Volland is decisive again. And automatisms have developed over time, like the express adaptation of Vanderson, who arrived this winter and converted to a right-winger position.

“It’s never easy to create automation with new players, recognized Wissam Ben Yedder, Thursday, in front of the press. We talked a lot to try to create chemistry. It took us a bit of time, that’s normal, but we found solutions by communicating a lot and it shows on the pitch”. Like an offensive sector where his duo with Kevin Volland is once again wreaking havoc.

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“I’ve been playing with Kevin for almost two years and we have created a lot of automatisms, he continued. We get on well on the pitch, we know for example that when one goes deep, the other has to stay a little lower and drop out. But Myron (Boadu) also manages to make the difference and score important goals. Everything is going well and we are trying to improve together.”

There is really a good agreement

“We are ambitious and we want to win every game. I feel this mentality in the locker room, even among the players who have less playing time. There is a really good understanding in the group, but also with a lot of competition”, for his part explained Philippe Clement. On its series of eight victories, Monaco scored more than a quarter of its goals (5 out of 19) thanks to players entered during the game, in this case Boadu (3) and Volland (2). The irrefutable proof that the Belgian technician has managed to concern everyone, or almost.

That he can count on a healthy group, too, like a completely revived Ruben Aguilar since the victory against Paris, and whose merits he has widely praised. “He’s a survivor, with an exceptional mentality. If he has to break through a wall to help the team, he will. It’s very important to have players like that in a team. He’s a real example for his teammates”. Just that.

Monaco has little margin

Elements that count, of course, when negotiating the hottest moments, the most hooked encounters. All was not perfect in Lille last weekend, and it took a superb double from Aurélien Tchouaméni to force the decision in two stages (2-1). The margin of the ASM in the majority of its meetings is also not huge: five matches, in this famous eight in a row, were won by a small goal difference, Monaco being led or joined in the score four times.

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A finding that applies even more blatantly to the standings, where Ben Yedder and his team are as many points behind OM (2nd) as they are ahead of Rennes (5th). “I want my players to be focused until the end, like what they did this week in training. For example, we talked about things to improve after the match against Lille and, even if this is not a guarantee to take three points in the next game, it should help us”. Guarantees, football offers only rarely. But it is clear that ASM has put everything on its side to achieve the pass of 10.

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