Monaco title win ends domestic dominance of PSG
FootyOn look at the Monaco title win in Ligue 1, and how their approach differs slightly from domestic rivals PSG.
A point at home to St-Etienne saw the French top-flight crown transferred from Paris to the Principality of Monaco with a game to spare.
Last reigning supreme over Ligue 1 at the turn of the century, the Stade Louis II outfit have been a breath of fresh air this season.
Although flexing financial muscle like PSG, Monaco have been the nearly men of French football in recent years.
We look in detail how they bridged the gap and took the Ligue 1 title from the capital club this season.
Jardim machine pushes aside Portuguese players
It is some achievement for Monaco, who were 31 points off the pace set by PSG last term, to reply.
Finishing third with the most goals conceded (50) of any of the top six, Leonardo Jardim’s team also drew more than double (14) the number of the games that the champions did.
Star centre back, Aymen Abdennour of Tunisia, was sold to Valencia, who had cashed in on Nicolas Otamendi, the previous summer.
That left Monaco with veteran former Portugal international and ex-Chelsea man Ricardo Carvalho marshalling their rearguard.
He was 37 and, although he went on to help his country win Euro 2016, renewal in the heart of defence outweighed any compatriot loyalty from manager Jardim.
Fabio Coentrao’s loan spell wasn’t made permanent either and a third Portugal international, Joao Moutinho, then found his minutes limited this season by the emergence of others in midfield.
Goals were also a problem for Monaco, netting just over half (57) of PSG’s haul of 102.
That had to change and, like the defence, it has.
The temptation to make marquee signings as PSG, Real Madrid and other European heavyweights do has been there.
Just asked leading scorer Radamel Falcao, who is back to his 30 goals a season best in the Principality.
Monaco were Champions League finalists as recently as 2004 with a side that contained Fernando Morientes, on loan from the Bernabeu, and subsequently Barcelona bound Ludovic Giuly in attack.
That vintage also contained future France internationals, notably then young defender Patrice Evra.
Nurturing players like the latter are the path Monaco have taken en route to the Ligue 1 title now.
There have still been signings, with Poland centre half Kamil Glik arriving this past summer alongside full back duo Benjamin Mendy and Djibril Sidibe, though.
For the most part, it is existing youngsters either brought through the academy or snapped up discreetly from other clubs who have gelled under Jardim.
Case for the defence
The results have been a marked improvement at either end of the field.
Monaco reached PSG’s seasonal league tally of 102 from last term with two games to spare.
They also boast a better defence, conceding just 31 in Ligue 1 this season. Only their thwarted Parisian rivals have been meaner at the back.
Croatia keeper Danijel Subasic has kept 17 clean sheets this season – five more than last term.
Partnering Glik and completing Jardim’s back four is Jemerson – a January 2016 signing from Atletico Mineiro.
He’s been called up by Brazil before, so the Samba Boys have an eye on him, so he could stake a claim for a World Cup squad place with Tite’s team already qualified for the finals.
Compatriot Fabinho’s conversion from rampaging right back to steady influence in front of defence may be the biggest triumph.
An engine room partnership with Tiemoue Bakayoko is why Moutinho has been marginalised.
Youth knows no fear
Supporting Colombia hitman Falcao have been a number of wide and attacking options.
Guido Carrillo and Valere Germain proved able deputies when called upon to lead the attack, netting 25 times between them.
Kylian Mbappe has exploded on the scene this term, netting 26 in all competitions and setting up 14 more goals for teammate.
Thomas Lemar, meanwhile, is in double figures for goals and assists (14 and 17), and you can say the same of Bernardo Silva (11 and 12).
This is markedly different from last term.
Monaco were struggling for goals with just one player making double figures.
Their youngsters, now given first-team exposure, are expressing themselves in typically fearless fashion.
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