“Above all, I hope that we are not overtaken. Regarding our ambitions, I look more behind than ahead”. At a pre-match press conference, Niko Kovac was not the type to want to draw too much attention to his AS Monaco, the Croatian coach perhaps preferring to continue to advance masked. But the Rocher club are back in business after two disappointing seasons.
The podium in sight
The first part of the season shed a lot of light on Lille. Recently, it was Lyon which impressed and despite a bland spectacle, Olympique de Marseille kept all its chances to play the first places. It is in the shoes of a 4th serious competitor for Paris Saint-Germain that Monaco is slipping. After two prolific victories (5-2 against Lorient and 3-0 against Angers), ASM has not trembled, or only in the last quarter of an hour, to continue its series against Montpellier this Friday evening (3-2 ).
The debates seemed to be closed from the first period thanks to the inevitable duo Wissam Ben Yedder – Kevin volland. The quality of the first, French international and co-top scorer coming out of the French championship, was no longer in doubt. This Friday, he even added two new goals to his already well-stocked palette, scoring his first header in his career in Ligue 1 with a deviation as subtle as it is diabolical (35th) and transforming a penalty (62nd). Like last season with Islam slimani, Ben Yedder has found in Kevin Volland a lieutenant of choice.
Facing Montpellier, he symbolically catapulted the ball that Ben Yedder had sent to the back of the net on the bar of an acrobatic kickback (25th). Opening the scoring, Volland has already scored his 10th Ligue 1 2020/21 goal (in addition to 5 assists), finding the loophole in each of his last 5 appearances. The German striker, who arrived in the Principality in early September, needed a month of adaptation, but he is now one of the main reasons for ASM’s return to the forefront.
“The group is progressing and the automatisms have appeared throughout the season“, Niko Kovac agreed this week without really explaining the reasons for satisfaction. Obviously, the progress of the tandem Aurélien Tchouaméni – Youssouf Fofana in the middle is part of it, like the output of Caio henrique at the left side post. But all that won’t eclipse the fact that ASM still has big defensive gaps. When Lyon conceded 18 goals, Lille 14 and Marseille 16, Monaco is already at 29 (only 7 teams do worse in the elite). The two conceded against Montpellier this Friday after leading 3-0 are a perfect illustration.