After finishing my match preview of the Monaco-Manchester City fixture, I honestly did not think that I would have to write another article. But I was at both legs, I yelled my lungs out, and I saw my beloved Monaco defeat Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. For us to experience such great football, it takes two teams, so my introduction is more of a praise to the Sky Blues than anything else. Miraculously, Monaco went through and will now face Borussia Dortmund.
Was it that much of a long shot? Do Monaco deserve their quarter-final presence?
Yes. Going back from losing 5-3, against a vastly richer side (Kevin De Bruyne cost more than every Monaco starter in the second leg combined), all of that while playing the most games of any team in Europe.
Given that we could have drawn Barcelona, Juventus or Real Madrid, Dortmund is not a terrible fixture. It’s not Leicester (no disrespect to them) but still, it’s doable. Given our current momentum, I am unsure whether Monaco can win.
On Saturday, AS Monaco lost the Coupe De La Ligue final against PSG 4-1. It was a demoralizing loss, but we picked ourselves up and defeated Lille 2-1 in the Coupe De France quarter final, with our B team. With only seven losses in 50 matches, Monaco has been one of the best teams in Europe. Nonetheless, Monaco’s priority remains winning Ligue 1, of which they currently lead by three points.
Falcao should be back to his full form, the Fabinho-Bakayoko pivot will be back, and Mbappé is still…well Mbappé. While many didn’t know of him before this year, (I forgive you if you weren’t watching U19 World Cup back in July 2016), you just cannot miss him now. He is everywhere, from MARCA to Sky Sports. He’s constantly focused on improving and has performed in our big games this season, a level of maturity far beyond his 18 years.
Subašić repented for his mistake at the Etihad by having a very good game at home, Mendy was called-up to Les Bleus (along with Sidibé and Mbappé), and Moutinho has improved from his early-season form, even though he is sitting on the bench for most games.
Lately, Mbappé, Fabinho and Mendy have been our best players, while Sidibé, Glik and Bakayoko have been struggling. Nonetheless, I have faith in the latter three to bounce back for Dortmund.
What I can say about Monaco is that it is not just a team. They’re brothers, more than teammates; they spend a lot of time together, and you can see that the chemistry is truly genuine. It’s rare to see big names like Falcao and Moutinho conversing and having fun with youngsters like Mendy or Silva, but this chemistry is genuine. They play street football mixed with Jardim’s tactic rigor. I’d like to see this fairytale continue for a few more weeks, and who’s to say it can’t?
I give Dortmund a 55% chance of going through, just because of their experience at this level. I gave Monaco the exact same percentage of going through in the Round of 16, and hopefully the outcome will be the same.
Photo Credit: ESPN