It’s been a dismal start to the season for Montpellier, who now sit bottom of Ligue 1 with just a single point taken from their opening six games. The result in this game didn’t make things any better ….
Monaco’s start, while not exactly meeting expectations, has been better. They sat in 12th on 8 points, having scored 5 goals more than Montpellier before this game began. Unfortunately for Leonardo Jardim, they’d conceded the same amount too, those 8 goals in 6 games constitute almost a third of what they conceded in the entirety of last season.
Here, they scored three …. but conceded two. Thus the pattern of their season appears set …
Monaco come into this game on the back of a 3-2 home defeat against Lorient, who remain ahead of them by a single goal.
The losses of Geoffrey Kondogbia and Layvin Kurzawa appear to have severely affected the defensive side of Monaco’s game, while a team that wasn’t free scoring to begin with looks even less so now, having lost Yannick Ferreira Carrasco to Atlético Madrid and, of course, Anthony Martial to Manchester United.
In spite of this, it’s important to remember who they were up against here. Montpellier’s last victory came in May, scraping past a 10-man, soon-to-be Ligue 2 Lens, with a 92nd minute goal from Anthony Mounier. The goalscorer that day is now plying his trade in Serie A and, unless somebody steps up to replace him at Montpellier soon, they could soon be plying their trade in Ligue 2.
If no longer having Mounier to call upon was bad enough, Morgan Sanson, Jamel Saihi, Souleymane Camara and Geoffrey Joudren all missed the game through injury.
For Monaco, Lacina Traore was suspended, Hélder Costa and Jérémy Toulalan were out and Nabil Dirar and João Moutinho were both doubtful, although Dirar played … and what an impact he had on the proceedings.
Since 2010, these sides had met four times at the Stade de la Mosson, with Monaco winning twice and holding Montpellier twice. In fact, the last time Montpellier overcame Monaco on home turf was a 2-1 victory in December 1990, when the away side were managed by a certain Arsene Wenger. That was 16 meetings ago … and it’s 17 now.
Yet they couldn’t have hoped for a better start to this match, surging into a 2-0 lead before half-time, after an opener at a set piece, from Daniel Congre, and then Guido Carrillo scoring an own goal. Those defensive frailties looked set to cost them.
But something happened in the second half … Moanco found something in their game, something that made all the difference.
Shortly before the hour mark, Fabio Coentrao had made it 2-1, from a set piece at the other end. On 65 minutes, that man Dirar had the defence at sixes and sevens, and his ball into Lemar was an open invitation, which was taken gratefully. From that point on, this game was only going to end one way, and in the last minute Monaco were awarded a penalty. Fabinho stepped up to take it, and it was dispatched … and that dreadful Montpellier run continues.
Football Express News MOTM: Nabil Dirar. A constant threat.