AS Monaco strode to an emphatic victory over Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain (3-1) at the Stade Louis II on Saturday, extending their impressive unbeaten league record in 2023.
For the first time since 2012, PSG weren’t the bookies’ favourite heading into the tie, which in itself was a realistic reflection of the state of affairs going into the match. Unlike Monaco, unbeaten since the turn of the year in league football, PSG are struggling for form, and are seeing their lead at the top eaten into. Les Parisiens entered the game off the back of a demoralising Coupe de France exit at the hands of Olympique de Marseille, whilst an injury crisis deepened as the hours ticked down to kick-off.
Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi and Marco Verratti were all suffering from injuries that would see them miss the game against Les Monégasques. This worsened just before kick-off as a virus ripped through the squad, manager Christophe Galtier revealing post-match that he was forced to chop and change his lineup several times on the morning of the tie.
The illness perhaps accounted for PSG’s lacklustre start to the game. Philippe Clement’s side targeted Juan Bernat, and soon got their reward, Aleksandr Golovin pouncing in the box to net an early opener and continue his hot streak of form.
Things got better for Monaco just minutes later. The young El Chadaille Bitshiabu was forced into a mistake under pressure from Krépin Diatta, presenting the ball to Wissam Ben Yedder, who finished past Gianluigi Donnarumma to double the lead.
However, it was PSG who got the next goal in an entertaining half in front of a packed crowd at the Louis II. Monaco’s defence was static as a series of simple passes led to a simple chance for Warren Zaïre-Emery inside the box, who finished with composure.
Monaco’s deserved two-goal cushion was restored just before the break, the brilliant Eliesse Ben Seghir slotting in Ben Yedder, who doubled his account via the inside of the post. Clement was perhaps fearing a reaction after the break, but he needn’t have. PSG were limp and incoherent, leading Galtier to admit post-match that he is “worried” about Tuesday’s clash against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
Monaco, however, are flying. They are provisionally on the podium and head into Thursday’s Europa League game against Bayer Leverkusen high on confidence. “The players should be proud today. They’ll have a day off tomorrow, and they’ll have deserved it. but I want to see them in training and ambitious on Monday. [The match against Leverkusen] is a final, like many others that are to come in the months to come,” said Clement post-match.
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Photo by AS Monaco