AS Monaco will be looking to put Champions League misery behind them when they travel to Racing Club de Lens on Sunday evening.
When: 4.00 pm GMT, 26 April 2015
Where: Stade Felix Bollaert, Lens
Monaco failed to progress to the final four of the Champions League when they were defeated, on aggregate, by Juventus in the quarter-finals.
Despite drawing the second leg 0-0 in front of their own fans, Monaco dropped out thanks to a 1-0 defeat in the first leg, the goal coming when Arturo Vidal scored from the penalty spot in Turin.
The Club of the Principality may have fallen short, but they gave a good account of themselves and proved that there’s reason for optimism at the club, despite the decision to drop the ‘Galacticos’ policy.
Young France international Geoffrey Kondogbia was terrific in the second leg, terrorising Juventus with his barrelling runs forward and his powerful shooting.
It’s little wonder that several Premier League clubs—including Arsenal—have been linked with his signature.
Bernardo Silva was also on song against Juve, impressing with his excellent dribbling and his fine play in the channels. The Portugal international was acquired on a free transfer in January and there is evidence that he can be a shining light for the club moving forward.
As ever, Monaco’s defence was resolute—a common factor throughout their fine Ligue 1 campaign—with Aymen Abdennour, another Premier league transfer target, demonstrating why he is such a sought-after stopper.
A combination of the fine form of Leonardo Jardim’s side and Olympique de Marseille’s dreadful collapse have led to Monaco occupying the third Champions League spot with the season drawing towards a close.
The Club of the Principality may slip out of the top three should Saint-Etienne beat Montpellier Herault Sport Club in the game’s early kickoff, but will hope to finish the day in third regardless of the first result of the day.
Monaco will be without Jeremy Toulalan, who is a key player in the heart of the park, due to a thigh strain. Expect Fabinho to partner Kondogbia in the heart of the park.
Striker Lacina Traore is another absentee, with Tiemoue Bakayoko remains a doubt as he continues to make his comeback from injury.
In defence, Ricardo Carvalho may well partner Abdennour, with Andrea Raggi moving to the right-back berth.
Lens, who are steadily heading towards Ligue 2, are at the foot of the table.
The Northern club sit on 26 points, and are eleven off safety. They haven’t won in their last four and were beaten by fellow strugglers Metz in their last match.
Antoine Kombouare is surely preparing his side for life in the second tier.