Monaco and PSG set for Round 2
Just three days after sharing a six-goal thriller at the Parc des Princes, AS Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain will meet once against at the Parc des Princes in what promises to be a thrilling rescheduled clash from Round 15.
AS Monaco – Paris Saint-Germain
The meeting between the defending champions PSG and the last team not called Paris to win the Ligue 1 Conforama title on Sunday promised to be a thriller: PSG coach Thomas Tuchel promising to start his Fantastic front Four of Neymar Jr., Kylian Mbappé, Mauro Icardi and Ange Di Maria; Monaco looking to have turned a corner under new coach Roberto Moreno.
It didn’t disappoint. Neymar opened the scoring after only three minutes before Gelson Martins and Wissam Ben Yedder returned fire inside the first 15. A Fodé Ballo Touré own goal and second Neymar strike put the hosts back in the ascendancy before Islam Slimani came off the bench to snatch a share of the spoils with 20 minutes to go.
Watch: Highlights of the six-goal thriller these sides shared on Sunday!
The result left PSG top, five points clear of second-place Olympique de Marseille having played a game fewer than André Villas-Boas’s side, with Monaco in eighth, knowing that a first win over Paris since August 2016 on Wednesday – during the season they nicked the title off the capital club – could see them climb onto the podium.
Keita killing it
History may not be on the principality club’s side, but Keita Baldé, who assisted Ben Yedder’s goal on Sunday and has plundered three of his own in his last three appearances in all competitions, thinks Monaco should have had the better of their rivals last time out.
“I’m happy, but frankly, I think we could’ve won this match,” he said at the post-match press conference. “Keylor Navas stopped me from making it 3-1, but it shows the character of the team, how we’ve improved, how we’ve worked hard all week. I’m really happy for the team.”
Keita Baldé (r.) thought Monaco could have beaten PSG on Sunday.
Montenegro forward Steven Jovetic is Moreno’s only injury concern, and the Spaniard – who guided his country to UEFA Euro 2020 qualification before succeeding Leonardo Jardim in December – could stick with what appears to be his favoured front two of Keita and Ben Yedder despite Slimani’s goal on Sunday.
Left-back Ballo-Touré and midfielder Adrien Silva are both a booking away from a suspension, but with next weekend off before a Coupe de France tie with fourth-tier Saint-Pryvé Saint-Hilaire FC and Ligue 1 Conforama fixture at home to 12th-place RC Strasbourg next Monday and Saturday respectively, they are unlikely to be rested now.
PSG coach Tuchel faced questions about his 4-4-2/4-2-2-2 in the aftermath of the 3-3 draw, with some observers suggesting that Monaco had discovered how to undo the champions when using what has been, for the better part of the last month, the German tactician’s preferred formation. Tuchel is having none if it, though, defending, in particular, six-goal, seven-assist man Di Maria.
Di Maria, Mbappé, Icardi and Neymar (l-r.) – PSG’s Fantastic Four?
“But he’s one of your Fantastic Four, isn’t he?” he retorted when asked about the Argentine’s performance against Monaco. “He does a lot of decisive things, assists. If we analyse his game, he also has a lot of passes before the assists. He creates many decisive situations. You know that I love him very much. He’s reliable and has a lot of quality.”
PSG, unlike Monaco, do not have a break this weekend, with FC Lorient in the Coupe de France on Sunday preceding their games with Stade de Reims in the Coupe de la Ligue next Wednesday and league game at away to LOSC the following Sunday.
Presnel Kimpembe could return to central defence for the champions having recovered from a hamstring injury, with Marquinhos pushing up into defensive midfield, while Julian Draxler could be an option in place of one of the Fantastic Four should Tuchel opt to shore up the midfield with his compatriot.
Monaco: Lecomte; Henrichs, Jemerson, Glik, Ballo-Touré; Martins, Bakayoko, Silva, Golovin; Keita, Ben Yedder
PSG: Navas; Meunier, Silva, Kimpembe, Diallo; Di Maria, Gueye, Marquinhos, Neymar; Mbappé, Icardi