With the way that PSG cruised to the Ligue 1 title last term, one can forgive most French football fans for being concerned that the league was turning into a one-horse race as Monaco, Nice, and Lyon were left trailing by a whopping 30-plus points.
Predictability is not something that fans really want to see. That’s why Leicester City’s triumph is something that will be never forgotten. Or in 2004, when Porto managed to win the Champions League, and later that summer, Greece clinching the EURO title.
This time around, the Ligue 1 title race is a lot more interesting, and that’s thanks to the rise of both Monaco and Nice. Les Rouges-et-Blancs finished 31 points behind PSG, who earned 96 in total last term. This term, however, Leonardo Jardim’s men have earned 65, which was their entire season’s haul after just 28 rounds.
Monaco are also on top of the Ligue 1 table. Yes, that’s correct. They have a three point advantage over Les Parisiens, and have scored an eye-popping 78 goals already this term, which makes them among the highest scoring sides among Europe’s Big 5 leagues.
With 10 rounds to go, we are now getting into the home stretch. But do Monaco have what it takes to pip PSG to the Ligue 1 title? Yes. And here are three reasons why.
An in-form Radamel Falcao
Monaco may not have been able to beat PSG in an eight-goal thriller, but there is still some glimmer of hope. Radamel Falcao’s brace, which could’ve been a hat-trick had he converted his spot-kick was reminiscent of the kind of goals fans used to see when he was crowned “King of the Europa League” After a rough past few seasons, he’s finally gotten his shooting boots back on, and has racked up 16 goals in the league plus an additional eight in other competitions. It goes without saying that El Tigre is back and roaring – and Monaco naturally are the better for it.
PSG are expected to win the Ligue 1 title each season. Monaco, by contrast, have been a surprise revelation. Of course, Les Rouges-et-Blancs, should they win it, will lose that element of surprise, but for now, they are using it to their full advantage, just like Nice. We saw Leicester City do it last term, quietly flying under the radar before springing the biggest upset sports fans have ever seen.
Monaco’s Ligue 1 win will not be on that scale, but it would still be an unprecedented achievement for the club. They haven’t won the Ligue 1 title since the turn of this century. And it is often said that the absence of expectations can be conducive to success. They are not expected to win the Champions League.
PSG, on the other hand, have questions surrounding them after failing to clear the quarter-finals stage seasons after season, and there is the general feeling that Les Parisiens must make that leap to the final four – and beyond – if they really want to cement their position as among the elite sides a la Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich. Monaco, by contrast are not really even viewed in the “second-tier” of clubs (i.e. Juventus, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City, Arsenal) and so should they overturn their 5-3 deficit against the Sky Blues to progress, it would be an achievement well above their grade.
A strong supporting cast
Much has been made of PSG’s star-studded squad, but Monaco are no slouches themselves. Last weekend they crushed Nantes 4-0, and that was without star man Radamel Falcao. Nantes had been on a four game undefeated streak prior to their heavy loss, so it’s not like they were exactly floundering near the bottom of the table. A brace from young striker Kylian Mbappe Lottin – who has been compared to Thierry Henry – was instrumental in the team making it a tenth straight game sans a loss. Lottin has nine goals to his name, and at just 18 years of age, has a very bright future ahead – which bodes well for Monaco’s long-term ambitions if they can hang on to him.
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