Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 12/25
AS Monaco are set to welcome Nantes to the Stade Louis II on Friday evening in the first game of the opening round of the 2021-22 season in Ligue 1.
Monaco did very well last season, keeping very close to the very top of the table in the French top flight right to the end, but ultimately some unexpectedly dropped points from the first half of the campaign proved costly as they were obliged to watch Lille knock Paris Saint-Germain off the throne instead. They will now be hoping for greater consistency this time around, though they will certainly be happy with the place in the Champions League qualifications they’ve earned.
There have been some changes in the squad under the command of coach Niko Kovac this summer. Right-back Benjamin Henrichs has been sold to RB Leipzig for a reported fee of €15 million, winger Henry Onyekuru to Olympiacos for €4.5m, left-back Fode Ballo-Toure to AC Milan for €5m, and left back Gil Dias to Benfica for €1.5m. Striker Stevan Jovetic has joined Hertha Berlin as a free agent. On the other hand, striker Myron Boadu has come from AZ Alkmaar for €17m, midfielder Jean Lucas from Olympique Lyon for €11m, and midfielder Ismail Jakobs from FC Koln for €6.5m. They’ve also signed goalkeeper Alexander Nubel on loan from Bayern Munich.
Monaco enter the domestic campaign with morale boosted by the 0-2 triumph away to Sparta Prague in the first leg of their clash in the third round of the Champions League qualifications, courtesy of Aurelien Tchouameni and Kevin Volland, though they are likely to have one eye on the rematch, scheduled for Tuesday next week.
Goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte missed the Sparta clash through injury and is likely to sit this one out as well, which means Nubel should stand between the posts again. Boadu could be another newcomer to be named in the starting XI, leading the line upfront, with Krepin Diatta suffering from a knee problem and Jovetic gone from the club.
Nantes will also have been relatively happy with the way last season ended, having barely survived in the league. They finished in 18th place with 40 points to their name and were forced into the relegation play-offs, where they came off better on away goals than Ligue 2 side Toulouse. Like Monaco, they will be hoping to do slightly better this term, which in their case means avoiding such a nervy finish.
Nantes signed goalkeeper Alban Lafont from Fiorentina for €7.5m, as well as midfielder Wylan Ciprien on loan from Parma. Midfielder Imran Louza (€10m, Watford), midfielder Lucas Evangelista (€1.5m, RB Leipzig), striker Elie Youan (€500,000, St. Gallen), centre-back Thomas Basila (free transfer, KV Oostende) and goalkeeper Alexandre Olliero (free transfer, Pau FC) have all left the club.
Nantes played six pre-season friendlies in the period that followed their relegation play-off triumph, winning two and losing four, but no proper conclusion about the form or the shape of the team can be drawn from the non-competitive run.
Nantes boss Antoine Kombouare cannot call upon former Liverpool midfielder Pedro Chirivella, who is suspended through a yellow card accumulation at the end of last season, and that should be a good opportunity for newcomer Ciprien to step in and make himself seen. Defensive midfielder Abdoulaye Toure has been training away from the team, seeking to secure a move away, and Kombouare most likely won’t be counting on him until the situation is resolved.
Monaco are obviously the favourites to win this match and start the new campaign with three points.
Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 12/25
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!