After the 2015/16 season was littered with failure in Europe for Monaco, the principality club will hope that the new campaign will rejuvenate their ambitions. Having qualified for the Champions League again, Leonardo Jardim’s men will be aiming to at least reach the group stages this time around.
However, before they think that far ahead, they will have to get past a tough draw in Turkish giants Fenerbahce. Despite concerns from some that the game might postponed due to recent troubles within the country, the game is set to go ahead and could be the pick of the games in the third round of qualifying.
Monaco will be without a few key players in their defence for the opening tie at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, with goalkeeper Danijel Subasic nursing an injury and new signing Kamil Glik not match fit after the European Championships.
Joao Moutinho also misses out as he looks for a move away from the Stade Louis II but in more positive news, Bernardo Silva is fit to travel after missing his nation’s victorious run at Euro 2016.
Jardim also has two experienced strikes to call upon with returning loanees Radamel Falcao and Valere Germain, who scored 14 goals in an excellent campaign with OGC Nice last season.
Fenerbahce can call on several of their summer acquisitions, with former Paris Saint-Germain man Gregory van der Wiel included in their squad alongside Martin Skrtel and Roman Neustadter.
Emmanuel Emenike has returned from his failed loan spell with West Ham United and Dutch forward Robin van Persie is expected to start on the bench for the hosts.
Radamel Falcao (Monaco) – The Colombian has been on numerous unremarkable loan spells in the last few seasons but after a few solid pre-season outings, fans will be hoping he can rediscover his lethal form.
El Tigre is a wounded animal but that can still have some bite with the right service. He needs a big boost, Monaco need a goalscorer and the fledging relationship could be mutually beneficial if he can start scoring regularly again. Otherwise it could be the death knell in what has been a depressingly rapid decline for the former Atletico Madrid man.
Fernandao (Fenerbahce) – There is a reason that RVP has been on the side-lines and it is mainly because of the form of this man. The Brazilian scored 25 goals in 55 appearances in all competitions last season and will look to expose Monaco’s weakened back line.
Strong in the air, clever in the box and quick to the ball, Fernandao is quietly shown in the past few months that he’s a very solid striker and can be a real thorn in Jardim’s side on Wednesday evening.
With home advantage and Monaco not at full strength, it would not be a great surprise if the Turkish side took a lead heading back to France. However, with aging defenders and a soft centre, Monaco should still have enough to come out of this one with a real chance of advancing to the final qualifying round.
Result: Fenerbahce 1-1 AS Monaco