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.


Sign up for the Monaco Life newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Photo by AS Monaco