AS Monaco’s miserable week got worse on Sunday, with local rivals OGC Nice beating Philippe Clement’s side (0-3) at the Stade Louis II.
Monaco were dumped out of the Europa League on Thursday at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen. Les Monégasques needed to quickly overcome that disappointment to ensure a rebound against Nice, who remain unbeaten since the appointment of Didier Digard at the start of the year.
However, Monaco seemed mentally absent and physically overrun in the early stages against Les Aiglons, who despite having little of the ball, were ruthlessly efficient in possession.
Terem Moffi opened his Nice account and the scoring on a blustery, damp day at the Louis II, profiting from Axel Disasi’s poor reading of the trajectory of a long ball to finish smartly past Alexander Nübel.
Jim Ratcliffe, Prince Albert II and Arthur Leclerc in attendance
Nice then scored the second in almost identical fashion. Khéphren Thuram’s long ball once again found Moffi, who once again had the beating of Nübel one-on-one. Things would get worse for Monaco before the break. The instrumental Thuram was once again at the heart of the action, breaking through the lines before being fed by Moffi on the edge of the box and finishing emphatically on the half-volley.
The former Monaco academy product had no qualms in celebrating the goal against his formative club. In the stands, Nice and Ineos owner Jim Ratcliffe, who recently lodged a bid to buy Premier League side Manchester United, savoured the moment. Arthur Leclerc and Prince Albert II looked much less euphoric as Monaco tumbled to a first Ligue 1 defeat of 2023.
Diop v Diop
Clement wrung the changes at half-time. The Belgian manager, clearly unhappy at what his side displayed substituted four players at the break. Off came Chrislain Matsima, Ismail Jakobs, Myron Boadu and Breel Embolo, and on came Edan Diop, Caio Henrique, Aleksandr Golovin and Wissam Ben Yedder came on.
However, the changes were ineffective. Monaco continued to look completely devoid of ideas, and only created their first chance of the match in the 80th minute. Diop faced up against his brother Sofiane, who left Les Monégasques to join Nice in the summer, and had some joy down the right flank, but not enough to change the direction of the match.
Not only did Monaco suffer their first league defeat of 2023, it was also the first Ligue 1 game during which they failed to score in 350 days. The last time Les Monégasques didn’t score was against Strasbourg on 13th March 2022.
Speaking post-match, Clement attributed the defeat to a physical drain on his team. “We’ve had a heavy schedule in recent weeks. We’re missing two right-backs (Ruben Aguilar and Vanderson). We have to play with an academy player at right-back (Diop). It damages the machine that we were in past weeks. We also lacked lucidity in the attacking and defensive phases,” he said.
He added, “It’s not like, in Nice, we were playing against a team worse than us at the moment. They beat Marseille, Lille and Lens.”
Regardless of Monaco’s recent form, the club are still on course for a podium finish, and will be looking to reassert their European credentials when they travel to face Ligue 1 strugglers ESTAC Troyes next Sunday.
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Photo by AS Monaco