Basketball: Monaco into the Betclic Elite final

Mike James: AS Monaco Basket v Bourg-en-Bresse

AS Monaco Basketball booked their place in the Betclic Elite final for the second consecutive season, beating Bourg-en-Bresse (71-85) on Saturday to wrap the series up 3-0.

The Roca Team have thus far made light work of the play-offs. They beat Strasbourg 2-0 in the quarter-finals, and despite a scare at the Salle Gaston Médecin on Wednesday night, they weren’t beaten by Bourg-en-Bresse during this five-game series.

Despite Wednesday’s victory, Sasa Obradovic was unimpressed by his side’s display and was looking for a reaction in Bourg-en-Bresse. He got it. Mike James (12 points, nine assists) was back to his creative best, and Donatas Motiejunas (22 points) was unstoppable inside the paint.

Obradovic was also looking forward to welcoming back Jordan Loyd (12 points, five rebounds), who in the words of Obradovic, “provides stability.” He was important in many phases of play, whilst Alpha Diallo (three points, nine rebounds) was indispensable.

Boulogne-Levallois await

Monaco were rarely threatened, although their indiscipline allowed Bourg-en-Bresse a steady flow of points. However, Moanco’s defence was tighter, their attack more fluid and their victory deserved (71-85).

“We respected this Bourg team that gave everything and had a great regular season. The objective now is clear: win this final and bring the Betclic Elite title to Monaco. That’s all we care about,” said Loyd post-match.

There won’t be a repeat of last year’s final as Boulogne-Levallois defeated Lyon-Villeurbanne 3-1. The first match of the series will take place in Monaco on June 10th.


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Photo by AS Monaco Basket

Formula 1: Dominant Max Verstappen secures fifth victory of the season in Spain, Charles Leclerc outside the points

Charles Leclerc at the Spanish Grand Prix

Max Verstappen and Red Bull continued their scintillating form at the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday, whilst Ferrari struggled to match the pace of the frontrunners. 

Saturday’s qualifying threw up a few surprises, unpleasant surprises for Charles Leclerc fans. The Monégasque struggled on a rapidly evolving Catalunya Circuit and was knocked out in the first round of qualifying since the Monaco Grand Prix in 2019. The issues didn’t stop there for Leclerc, as Ferrari made the decision to change components of his car, resulting in him starting from the pitlane.

George Russell and Sergio Perez also struggled for pace and both failed to make it into Q3 as Max Verstappen took pole ahead of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris.

Mercedes refind form in Spain

Verstappen, despite coming under considerable pressure from home favourite Sainz at turn one, held first position and wasn’t troubled from then onwards. He led a flawless race to the chequered flag. The only threat was the dark clouds that loomed over the circuit throughout but did not produce any rain, unlike in last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

There was more movement and excitement further back the field. Norris couldn’t convert his qualifying performance, colliding with Lewis Hamilton at turn one and being forced to pit for a new front wing.

Hamilton came out of that incident unscathed and showed good pace, overtaking Sainz after the first round of pitstops on his way to a second-place finish.

From 12th on the grid, Russell slalomed his way through the field to a place on the podium, ahead of Perez, who fought his way into fourth. The upgrades brought to the Mercedes have propelled them up the grid, and in Spain, they were uncontestably the second quickest car.

“We have incredible inconsistency.”

However, it is a more sombre story for Ferrari, who struggled for pace. Sainz, who started second on the grid, could only finish fifth in the race. Leclerc, who began from the back of the grid, endured a difficult race, and despite fighting his way to 11th, finished the weekend without adding to his points tally.

As has been the case in recent races, Leclerc was once again left bemoaning the inconsistent performance of his Ferrari. “We have incredible inconsistency. We put two sets of the same compound obtaining opposite behaviours. With the first hard we were nowhere, with the second we did well. [It’s] a problem we’ve had for a long time,” he said.

There is a fortnight until the next race of the season, which will take place in Canada. It is unlikely that anyone will be able to match the pace of the Red Bulls, who have now won all seven of this year’s races.


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Photo from Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Football: European football slips through Monaco’s fingers

Breel Embolo: AS Monaco v Toulouse

AS Monaco let qualification for European football slip through their fingers against FC Toulouse (1-2) on Saturday on a night of frustration and regret at the Stade Louis II.

Heading into the final game of the season, Monaco’s destiny was no longer in their own hands, following four defeats in their last six matches. However, both Rennes and Lille, both of whom needed results to secure their own European qualifications, were struggling against inferior opposition. Lille couldn’t get the job done against Troyes, meaning a victory for Les Monégasques would have secured Europa Conference League football for next season.

However, despite the high stakes, Monaco were passive in the first half, circulating the ball without many ideas of what to do with it. Alexander Nübel, who is showing his finest patch of form right at the end of his two-year loan from Bayern Munich, was forced into a smart double save.

Wissam Ben Yedder went close at the other end and would have got his name on the scoresheet against his former club if not for the outstretched foot of Maxime Dupé.

Within inches of Europe

As the game progressed, Monaco became more desperate and threw more men forward. Naturally, that left space to exploit at the back, and exploit it Toulouse did. Zakaria Aboukhlal poked in after a goalmouth scramble to give Toulouse a surprise lead.

However, Monaco hit back just seven minutes later, Ben Yedder wasn’t to be denied this time as he poked in from close-range. Les Monégasques had just over 10 minutes to find a winner and almost found it on multiple occasions.

Maghnes Akliouche hit both posts within the space of three minutes before Edan Diop curled just wide from an unmarked position inside the box in injury time. However, Monaco wouldn’t even salvage a point, as worthless as that would have been.

Rhys Healey, who has missed the whole season with an ACL injury, made a dream return, providing the sucker-punch deep in injury time to secure the three points (1-2) and inflict Monégasque misery.

Departures, but how many?

Monaco end the season in sixth place in Ligue 1, finishing on a run of three straight defeats and with just one win in their last seven games. “Certainly, the defeat against Lens (22/04/23) was a key moment. We have sunk in the weeks since,” analysed Philippe Clement. 

The disappointment precedes what is expected to be a big summer of change on Le Rocher. Thiago Scuro is expected to be confirmed as the new Sporting Director, replacing Paul Mitchell, soon. There is also the question of the managerial role, which after the recent run of form, is under threat; Clement is aware of that.

“It is the management’s choice [if I stay]. I am not someone who escapes responsibility. I always look at myself in the mirror. I always want to improve. I have a heart for this club. I want to fight for the club, but it’s up to the management to decide that. That’s the world of football. Before Lens, we spoke about extending, and everyone was happy. Now we’re all disappointed, me first and foremost. We will see,” said Clement.

As the Belgian coach told Monaco Life, many players are expected to leave. “I think it’s the end of a cycle. There are players that would like to leave. That needs to be in the conditions that suit the club,” he said. 

The Belgian coach confirmed that pre-season will begin on 3rd July. Who will be involved in that session only time will tell. A turbulent summer lies ahead.


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Photo by AS Monaco

Monaco mourns the death of Albert Croesi

Prince Albert has paid tribute to long-running member of his government Albert Croesi, who passed away suddenly on Friday night, commending his “unfailing devotion to the Principality of Monaco”.

Albert Croesi suffered a fatal heart attack at his home on Friday 3rd June. The Monegasque native worked in various roles for the Prince’s Government, most recently being appointed the Interministerial Councillor in charge of the quality of life and relations in 2019.

He was also the Secretary of the Prince Rainier III Commemoration Committee, coordinating and orchestrating the organisation of the tribute events, under the direction of Princess Stéphanie.

The Palace released the following statement:

“It is with great sadness that H.S.H. Prince Albert II has learned of the sudden death of Mr. Albert Croesi, which occurred in his sixty-second year. Commitment, energy, sense of duty and general interest, his unfailing devotion to the Principality of Monaco and the Princely Family, these were the qualities that animated Albert Croesi’s work throughout his life. The Sovereign Prince and His Family unite to send their most sincere condolences to Paul his son, as well as to Pierine his mother and all of his family and loved ones.”

Minister of State Pierre Dartout has also relayed his condolences, saying in a statement:

“It is with great sadness that we learned of the sudden passing of Albert Croesi. On behalf of the Prince’s Government, I would like to express my most sincere condolences to his family and loved ones. We already miss his generosity, his benevolence and the energy with which he undertook all the projects entrusted to him.”


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Photo source: Prince’s Government



Monaco celebrates Pride month

More than 100 representatives of the Monaco government, the National Counsel, business and the local community celebrated Monaco Pride at an event on Thursday 1st June at the Novotel Hotel.

This was the second Monaco Pride event. The first was held in June 2022 at the former Stars’n’Bars. Speakers included CEO of Barclays Private Bank Monaco Gerald Mathieu, Coordinator of Fight Aids Association Hervé Aeschbach, General Manager of Novotel Monaco Guillaume Rapin, and Annette Anderson.

Guests were reminded of the dynamic programs that both Barclays and Novotel have to encourage diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Government officials joined members of Barclay’s Private Bank and local associations for the Monaco Pride event

The speakers spoke of positive advances in Monaco for the LGTBQI+ community including the support of Princess Stephanie and her family for the Fight Aids Association. Also mentioned was the participation of the AS Monaco football club who have worn rainbow-decorated jerseys in recent years on the International Day Against Homophobia each 17th May.

In 2022 the European Commission Against Racism And Intolerance (ECRI) called on Monaco to examine and eliminate unjustified differences in rights between same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples. In April, the Commission organised a round table in Monaco to discuss its recommendations with representatives of the Principality’s government and community.

Barclay’s Private Bank will be lit up in the rainbow colours for Pride month

All speakers were in agreement that diversity, inclusion and equal civil rights for all Monaco workers were indispensable elements for a growing economy and healthy community.

The Pride event is sponsored by Barclays Private Bank and the Fight Aids Association. This year, during the month of June, the front façade of Barclays Private Bank in Monaco will be illuminated in the colours of the rainbow in observance of Pride Month.


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Photos provided