In what was often a cagey affair at the Stade Louis II on Tuesday night, Monaco and PSV played out a 1-1 draw as they opened their Champions League qualifying adventure.
While the Dutch giants might have taken a shock first-half lead on foreign soil as Joey Veerman produced a smart finish six minutes before the break, the Monegasques managed to avoid what would have been an upset in France.
With central defender Axel Disasi powering home from close range in the final 10 minutes, a showdown against either Rangers or Saint Union is still hanging in the balance.
In a battle between two European powerhouses on Tuesday night, we have taken a look at the main talking points.
Summer struggles for Monaco
After impressing many across France last season as they clinched a bronze medal finish in Ligue 1, Monaco would have been desperate to keep up that momentum ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.
However, while Tuesday’s hosts might have found their feet under Head Coach Philippe Clement, the Monegasques have endured somewhat of a stutter this summer.
Signing off their pre-season preparations with back-to-back 2-1 and 3-1 defeats against Porto and Southampton, Monaco really failed to find much stability at the Stade Louis II here.
Only managing to muster a pair of shots on target, the former Club Brugge boss saw Takumi Minamino struggle on his full competitive debut after making the move from Liverpool this summer.
Likewise, although Disasi might have managed to snatch Monaco a much-needed first-leg equaliser, Clement would have also been disappointed by Wissam Ben Yedder’s toothless display.
Offering little in the final third after racking up 25 Ligue 1 strikes last season, fans around the Stade Louis II will be hoping for a more clinical display when they travel to Holland next week.
Positives for Ruud
Laying down what was a stellar pre-season marker over the weekend as they lifted the Dutch Super Cup thanks to a 5-3 victory against Ajax, PSV made the trip to France on Tuesday riding quite the wave.
Although the Dutch outfit might have been left heartbroken after falling just two points adrift of Ajax and lifting last season’s Eredivisie trophy, Ruud van Nistelrooy’s men will have their sights set on mounting another charge this time around.
Opening the scoring on Tuesday night just six minutes before the half-time interval thanks to Veerman’s wonderful strike from the edge of the box, the ex-Manchester United striker was filled with praise for his side’s display.
Enjoying what has been an eye-catching end to their summer preparations, PSV should be smelling the chance to finish off the job when they return to the Philips Stadion next week.
Losing just one of their last six Champions League appearances on home soil, a run highlighted by a 5-1 victory against Galatasaray last year, van Nistelrooy’s side have plenty of positives to take away.
Rangers or Union await
Although both Monaco and PSV would have been focused on their own qualifying showdown on Tuesday night, there is no doubt that they would have one eye on proceddings over in Belgium.
With it announced last month that the winners here would secure a final battle against either Saint Union or Scottish giants Rangers, many were left shocked by the Blues’ slip-up on foreign soil.
Storming their way to last season’s Europa League final before suffering a penalties defeat against Eintracht Frankfurt, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side put in a hugely worrying display.
Tipped to potentially grab themselves a first-leg advantage as they made the trip to the Joseph Marien Stadium on Tuesday night, Rangers were instead hit with a 2-0 loss.
Knowing that they need quite the turnaround at Ibrox next week, both Monaco and PSV will be hoping that Union can hold on and make their journey to the group stages a tad more simple.
Monaco: Nubel, Vanderson, Disasi, Maripan, Jakobs, Takumi, Fofana, Matazo, Golovin, Ben Yedder, Volland
Subs: Embolo, Diatta, Martins, Diop
PSV: Benitez, Mwene, Teze, Obispo, Max, Til, Sangare, Veerman, Saibari, de Jong, Gakpo
Subs: Simons, Silva, Ginkel, Gutiérrez, Oppegård
Goals: Monaco: Disasi 80′ – PSV: Veerman 38′
Yellow Cards: Monaco: Jakobs, Matazo – PSV: Veerman, Gutiérrez
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Davide Massa
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