Thursday, May 23, 2024

Montreal boss Courtois encouraged by progress, but still envies Messi and Miami

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 9 May 2024

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CF Montreal coach Laurent Courtois has been delighted by the way his players have adapted to his methods this season, though he joked he would still swap any of them for Lionel Messi ahead of Saturday’s clash with Inter Miami.

Montreal sit 11th in the Eastern Conference standings with 12 points from their first 10 league games under Courtois, 12 adrift of early pacesetters Miami.

However, plenty of outside factors have impacted their start to the season, not least the fact they have played eight of their matches – including each of their first six – on the road.

Courtois is proud of the way his players have learned on the job, though he still believes there is more to come from them.

“I keep telling them that I have no in-between. I’m either going to be your biggest fan, or really tough and really demanding. Because we don’t have time to play. We don’t have time to lose,” he said.

“At the same time, I’m such a fan of what they’ve been doing, accepting the stuff that I’ve been asking them to do, while being on the road for three months.

“I think they want to play soccer in the right way. I have a few codes that I think can be helpful.

“We need together to come up with common ground to execute in this way. They’re still far from what I think they can do.”

However, Courtois does see one area for improvement ahead of Saturday’s clash with the Herons, quipping: “I wouldn’t change any of my players for any others – except Messi.”

Miami trounced the New York Red Bulls 6-2 last week, with Messi scoring once and laying on five assists in an incredible performance.

That display left coach Gerardo Martino in disbelief, as he said: “I always say this, and it’s redundant at this point, but he always does something new.

“To have an involvement in all six goals of a team’s goals in a 6-2 is something that will be difficult to see again.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

CF Montreal – Jonathan Sirois

Last week’s 4-1 defeat at Nashville SC was the seventh time Montreal have conceded four or more goals in a regular-season MLS game since the start of 2023, more than any other team.

Only two MLS goalkeepers have faced more shots than Sirois (55) in 2024, though he has conceded 2.1 goals fewer than Opta’s expected goals on target (xGoT) model suggests he should have. He will need a big performance against Messi and company.

Inter Miami – Lionel Messi

Messi has 10 goals and 12 assists in eight league matches this season. No player in MLS history had reached 10 goals and 10 assists in fewer than 16 appearances in a season before.

The Argentine has also reached 25 goal contributions in 14 MLS matches overall, seven fewer than any other player in MLS history required to bring up that figure.

MATCH PREDICTION – CF MONTREAL WIN

Montreal have won six of their nine all-time meetings with Miami (one draw, two defeats), including a 3-2 victory over the Herons on March 10.

Only New York City FC (2.22) and the Chicago Fire (2.17) average more points per match against Miami than Montreal (2.11) among teams the Herons have faced five or more times.

While Montreal are winless in their last three league games, the last two of those were played on the road.

On home soil, they are a different proposition, going unbeaten through their last six games (two wins, four draws), including a win and a draw in their first two home matches of 2024. They have only lost three of their last 17 regular-season home games dating back to last April (10 wins, four draws).

Miami, despite their star quality, have been vulnerable this campaign, trailing in nine MLS games – a joint-high alongside the San Jose Earthquakes. They cannot keep relying on rescue acts.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

CF Montreal – 47.2%

Inter Miami – 25.7%

Draw – 27.1%

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SoccerNews

Soccernews.com is news blog for soccer with comprehensive coverage of all the major leagues in Europe, as well as MLS in the United States. In addition we offer breaking news for transfers and transfer rumors, ticket sales, betting tips and offers, match previews, and in-depth editorials.

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