Verdict: Home win.
Best odds: 2
AS Monaco and Olympique Lyon have been awarded the honour of opening the 2019/20 Ligue 1 season when they face each other in the first round on Friday evening at the Stade Louis II, in what should be an exciting contest between two teams that are usually close to the top of the table in France.
As already said, these teams are usually close to the top of the table, but Monaco endured an uncharacteristically torrid 2018/19 season and narrowly avoided relegation, finishing 17th with a lousy total of 36 points to their name. The team that won the title in 2016/17 is all but gone, and even though they made a lot of money from the sales of those players, they haven’t been able to replace them on the pitch properly.
The man in charge of that team Leonardo Jardim is, however, back at the helm, and it will be interesting to see of he can reproduce at least something of his previous success. The club have added winger Gelson Martins from Atletico Madrid to their ranks for €30 million, as well as goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte and fullback Ruben Aguilar, both from Montpellier. A relatively quiet transfer window so far despite the horrors of last season, and it will soon be seen if they were right to keep faith with the current crop of players.
Goalkeeper Danijel Subašić and forwards Stevan Jovetić, Pietro Pellegri and Willem Geubbels are all out due to different injury problems. This means that newcomer Lecomte could make his debut between the posts, as well as Aguilar who might be given the nod ahead of Benjamin Henrichs due to Henrichs joining the pre-season late after his exploits in the U-21 European Championship.
Unlike Monaco, Lyon had a rather successful 2018/19 season, and only champions Paris Saint-Germain and Lille OSC managed to finish above them in the Ligue 1 table. Another thing that sets them apart from the home side in this clash is the transfer window. The summer has seen president Jean-Michl Aulas and his staff do plenty of business.
They’ve so far signed centre-back Joachim Andersen from Sampdoria for €24 million, midfielder Thiago Mendes from Lille for €22 million, fullback Youssouf Kone for €9 million, midfielder Jean Lucas from Flamengo for €8 million, while goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu and winger Boubacar Fofana came in on free transfers from Nantes and Ajaccio, respectively. Meanwhile, 10 players, including midfielder Tanguy Ndombele (Tottenham Hotspur, €60m), fullback Ferland Mendy (Real Madrid, €48m) and midfielder Nabil Fekir (Real Betis, €20m), have left the club.
New signings Andersen, Lucas and Mendes are expected to slot right into the starting XI. Meanwhile, Kone is still building his fitness up following his involvement in the African Cup of Nations, while Marcal is an injury doubt. This means Rafael is likely to start on the left defensive flank.
It certainly won’t be that easy for Sylvinho in the Lyon dugout to cope with so many changes to his team so quickly, and some inconsistency is to be expected from them. Playing on home soil, Monaco should be able to take advantage of this and start the new campaign by nailing three points to the board, feeling strongly motivated to prove last season was a fluke.
Verdict: Home win.
Best odds: 2
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!