Nathan Staples previews Monaco’s clash with North London side Tottenham.
In any tricky European group, you have to win all of your home games. It is a bare minimum for progress and for Monaco, their toughest challenge comes to the Stade Louis II first as they host Tottenham Hotspur.
The principality club just about escaped Belgium with a point last time out and although Spurs should be bouncing after their 4-1 win against Manchester City at the weekend, expect a raft of changes. Can the French side embarrass the other North London club in Europe this season? Well, they certainly have the tools to do so.
The news that will delight Monaco fans is that midfield maestro Jeremy Toulalan is back in training with the squad and could be involved, however he may have to start on the bench.
Joao Moutinho is ‘in the process of returning’, while Helder Costa and Almamy Toure are still having treatment on separate injuries they have picked up over the past few weeks.
Monaco started without a traditional striker against Guingamp at the weekend but could reintroduce Lacina Traore to the first eleven after scoring the equaliser against Anderlecht in the previous round of games.
Ryan Mason has recovered from a knee problem and could start, while fellow midfielder Moussa Dembele could have a place on the bench for the Premier League side.
Kieran Trippier and Kevin Wimmer are expected to deputise in defence as Mauricio Pochettino will make several changes to the squad, including a possible start for former Lyon forward Clinton N’Jie as Son Heung-Min is out with a foot injury.
Thomas Lemar (Monaco) – There hasn’t been many bright spots for Monaco so far this season but if anyone was to pick out on so far, it would be summer signing Thomas Lemar. The former Caen midfielder has been a real revelation for his new club, playing at a level that many didn’t expect from the 19-year-old so soon in his career.
It was clearly a great bit of business and much needed with the injury to Moutinho, he has been especially brilliant in the past three games, scoring twice and creating one assist. His place in the team is almost certain and hopefully he can reproduce that kind of form against a step up in opposition.
Erik Lamela (Tottenham) – It looked for all the world that the Argentine, still considered a flop by some in England, was heading to Marseille on loan on transfer deadline day. The deal fell through, mainly thanks to Pochettino’s intervention and it has proved to be a good move.
The 23-year-old has really shown his quality at the start of the season and was the standout player in the club’s win at the weekend. He was everywhere, creating an assist and keeping composed to score a goal too. If he hits all cylinders, Monaco will need to find a way to stop him quickly.
This on paper looks like the worst time for Monaco to face Tottenham. Leonardo Jardim’s men are coming off a loss, Spurs just won a big game but looking at how some Premier League teams treat this competition, it should give Monaco hope.
This will be a vastly changed squad and while some will be eager to prove their worth, much like Harry Kane last season, that can always lead to mistakes. Mistakes that a team who have scored six goals in a week should be able to exploit.
It will probably surprise a few but should Monaco play in a similar way to how they did against Arsenal last season, they could quite easily come away with a well-earned victory. However, it is a big if.
Monaco 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur