On the brink of Champions League elimination in the qualifying stages for the second year in a row, Monaco have their backs against the wall but aren’t out for the count yet. Despite the 2-1 defeat in Turkey, the away goal could prove valuable as they take the tie back to the Stade Louis II tonight.
Lessons should have been learned from the first encounter, such as denying Fenerbahce space in behind their soft centre and that they need to make more opportunities in the final third rather than taking pot shots from range. However, if Monaco can become the stifling, strong unit that many Ligue 1 fans have seen in the past, there should be plenty of optimism that they can get the job done.
Monaco will be delighted to have Danjiel Subasic, Kamil Glik and Kylian Mbappe all available after they missed the first leg through a mixture of injuries and recovering from summer international tournaments.
Manager Leonardo Jardim has admitted that it would be a game-time decision for Subasic and Glik, while Mbappe will likely begin the game on the bench.
After experimenting with a 4-4-2 formation in the first leg without much success, the principality club may look to rotate to add more creativity from central areas. Bernardo Silva could start in place of one of the strikers, with both Radamel Falcao and Valere Germain cancelling each other out in the previous encounter.
Fenerbahce will look to continue with the 3-5-2 that was used to great success at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, with former Ligue 1 star Gregory van der Wiel notching assist for Emmanuel Emenike’s second from a wing-back position.
The Turkish giants will hope that they can hold on and progress, having failed to qualify for the group stages of Europe’s elite competition since the 2008/09 season. They have won just once in their last 10 away games on the continent and Monaco have never lost four Champions League games in a row in their history.
Bernardo Silva (Monaco) – The Portuguese prodigy needs to start this game, otherwise it could all go downhill quickly for Monaco. A bright spark that has creativity flowing through his bones, he is capable of brining everything the team lacked in the first leg.
Having recovered from injury, it’s perplexing to see him on the sidelines. With the Fabinho/Tiemoue Bakayoko partnership providing no forward thrust and the two strikers lacking service, it should be a no brainer. Should he start, he will be the man with the keys to unlock the door for the Ligue 1 side.
Emmanuel Emenike (Fenerbahce) – It was pretty evident from the first leg that this is the man Monaco need to pay the closest attention to. Far too strong for Jemerson for the opening goal and given far too much space in the box for his second, the Nigerian proved that he is still a deadly finisher when given the opportunity.
He had his best moments when working in behind the defence and if Monaco go chasing the game too early, they could be punished heavily on the counter attack by this man. If they want to progress, they need to keep Emenike quiet for the entire 90 minutes, which is easier said than done.
A huge game for Monaco and for France’s European coefficient, so Jardim needs to get this one right. Fix the distinct lack of penetration, the lax defending against crosses and long balls, then they have a real chance.
If he doesn’t make any changes and trusts in what his side offered last week, they will desperately need an early goal to then fall back on their defensive base. But if that doesn’t come and they have to start chasing the game, a swift counter will kill off all hopes.
In my opinion, Jardim gets this one right. He plays a more creative player that brings more out of whoever he decides starts up front and once they grab a goal, they cling on for dear life before crawling into the playoff round.
Result: AS Monaco 1-0 Fenerbahce