Sunday, June 4, 2023

AS Monaco 3-1 Paris Saint-Germain: Talking points as rotation hurts French champions

Veselin Trajkovic in Editorial, Ligue 1 12 Feb 2023

Embed from Getty Images

AS Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain met at the Stade Louis II in the Municipality on Saturday, within round 23 of the Ligue 1 roller coaster, and the hosts kept the three points to themselves with a 3-1 victory. The goals were the work of Aleksandr Golovin (4′) and Wissam Ben Yedder (18′, 45’+2) for Monaco, and Warren Zaire-Emery (39′) for the visitors.

Deserved Monaco victory

This is the second time on the trot PSG have come to Stade Louis II and left with their heads bowed after conceding three times. Ben Yedder also scored twice the last time the two teams met there, back in March last year, with Kevin Volland adding one in between. Well, at least PSG got one back this time.

In that match, it was mostly Aurelien Tchouameni whose presence in the middle of the park repeatedly got in the way of anything PSG tried to do to organize an attack. One would think that with the young midfielder now safely out of the way, playing for Real Madrid, PSG might be able to do more, but they were outplayed again.

There can be no questions whatsoever about Monaco’s triumph being well deserved. With only 41% of possession, Philippe Clement’s men took a total of 19 shots, nine on target, while PSG fired only seven times, hitting the frame of the goal just twice. Chance after chance the hosts created, with Gianluigi Donnarumma turning out the main reason why they didn’t score five or more.

Apart from the goals they scored, Both Golovin and Ben Yedder had a couple of excellent chances to hurt the champions further, as well as right-back Ruben Aguilar who frequently made runs into the box to try and get on the end of crosses from the left.

The PSG rotation

To be fair to PSG, it was a very rotated lineup Christophe Galtier sent out. Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe, the two main stars of last year’s World Cup, were out of contention through injury, as were Renato Sanches, Marco Verratti, Georginio Wijnaldum and Nordi Mukiele, and the coach left the likes of Achraf Hakimi, Nuno Mendes, Presnel Kimpembe and Sergio Ramos on the bench.

The reason behind the decision to rest as many players as possible was quite clear – on Tuesday evening, PSG welcome Bayern Munich at the Parc des Princes in the first leg of their clash in the round of 16 of the Champions League. Mbappe will not be a part of that game either, but there is hope that some of the others, including Messi, will be.

PSG looked particularly thin in midfield. Wijnaldum is reportedly on the verge of returning to action after sitting five months out with a broken tibia, but without him or Verratti in the middle of the park, there was simply no grit needed to fight for the loose balls and with Krepin Diatta, Mohamed Camara, Youssouf Fofana and Golovin there to reap the benefits, Monaco were always quick to pick it up and charge towards Donnarumma.

In the absence of Messi and with Neymar far from his best on the day, the task of creating fell mostly to Carlos Soler, and it can’t be said that he didn’t try; it’s just that he doesn’t quite have the flair and know-how the football public is used to seeing from the PSG stars. Hugo Ekitike, who replaced Mbappe in the team, was seen very little throughout.

At the back, the damage was already done by halftime, which was the moment when Galtier sent on Ramos to replace El Chadaille Bitshiabu. The 17-year-old obviously has a bright future and should receive encouragement, rather than too much criticism, after this abysmal showing, but it has to be said that arguably the most important moment in the whole game was his mistake in the 18th minute, which led to Ben Yedder doubling Monaco’s lead. He did well to intercept a pass to Monaco’s right flank aimed at Diatta, but instead of looking to get the ball away from his goal, he went straight towards it and his indecisiveness spurred the Monaco midfielder to press harder. Eventually, Diatta managed to poke the ball away and into the box, where Ben Yedder picked it up and made the most of that gift.

The goal young Zaire-Emery scored was probably the only thing that went right for PSG in this game, a well-worked move as Soler threaded a nice through-pass for Juan Bernat to chase and the left-back squared it for the 16-year-old on the far post. The teenage goalscorer will probably remember this game for reasons different than the rest of his team.

The aftermath

With the Bayern game to come three days later, PSG won’t be too bothered with this defeat. Galtier was surely aware of the quality Monaco possesses and still chose to rotate, which indicates that his priority was the Champions League clash. Quite understandable, given that his team are still five points clear at the top of Ligue 1 table, despite second-place Olympique Marseille beating Clermont Foot.

But for Monaco, this victory was of huge significance as they strive to keep as close to the top as possible, with a view of qualifying for next season’s Champions League. At the moment, they’re in third place, two points behind Marseille, but Lens will have a chance of reclaiming that spot with a potential victory in Lyon on Sunday. It should also be said that Monaco have European obligations next week too, facing Bayer Leverkusen at home in the Europa League.


Veselin Trajkovic

Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.



Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Live Scores


Betting Guide Advertisement


Become a Writer
More More
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x