AS Monaco have drawn German side Bayern Leverkusen in the first round of the Europa League knockout stages, in what sporting director Paul Mitchell has described as an “exciting game.”
Last Thursday’s comfortable victory over Red Star Belgrade consolidated Philippe Clement’s second place in their Europa League group, meaning that unlike last year, they will face against a dropout from this year’s Champions League competition.
During Monday’s draw, Monaco drew German side Bayern Leverkusen, who have been struggling in their domestic division so far this season.
“I think it’s an exciting draw. Their league position is a bit false, to be honest,” began Mitchell. “I spent time in Germany, and they were always a great rivals of ours at RB Leipzig (one of Mitchell’s former clubs). They were always fighting for the podium, fighting for the top four. I actually, fortunately, and maybe intuitively, was there last week for their game against Club Bruges so I have seen first-hand the quality that they have. They’ve just changed coach to Alonso, so they have someone implementing a different style and they’ve just had a massive win against Union Berlin at the weekend, who are having a fantastic season. It will be a tough challenge, but I think it will be an exciting game,” he continued.
Asked by Monaco Life whether Alonso’s recent arrival at the German club makes them a bit of an unknown entity, Mitchell replied, “Everyone is going to get this kind of micro pre-season again. That will give [Alonso] time on the grass with his team. Any new coach wants as much of that as they possibly can. I think we’ll see a different Leverkusen in the second half of the season when we play them. Seeing the quality of their squad list, the dynamism of their team, it’s going to be a tough challenge for us for sure.”
Monaco visit Leverkusen on 16th February, before hosting the return leg one week later, with Clement’s men looking to better last year’s performance in the competition.
Photo of Paul Mitchell by Monaco Life