Yet again, Monaco set out on a Champions League campaign to prove everyone wrong.
Back in 2015/16, after a great run the year before, they failed to even make the group stages of the competition due to a mass exodus of talent. They begin at that stage this year due to their Ligue 1 crown but face even more questions as the summer purged them of four strong starters.
That road starts in Germany against newcomers RB Leipzig, who also are looking to establish themselves on the European scene. Fasten your seatbelts everyone, the ride is just about to become enjoyable.
Monaco are without French international Thomas Lemar through injury. The 21-year-old was substituted at half-time of the principality club’s 4-0 defeat to Nice on Saturday and has not travelled with the matchday squad.
Gabriel Boschilia also remains sidelined as he continues his slow recovery from a cruciate ligament tear but new signing Keita Balde has made the trip and could make his Monegasque debut in Leipzig.
The Rassenbull will likely be without Guinea international midfielder Naby Keita, who limped off in their 2-0 win over Hamburg on Friday evening. Manager Ralph Hasenhüttl told reporters yesterday that the 22-year-old had his training session cut short and is unlikely to feature.
The Saxony side boast a number of quality players but also have two Frenchman who will be around the starting line-up this evening. Former PSG man Jean-Kevin Augustin will be vying for a spot up front while France Under-19 international Dayot Upamecano should partner Willy Orban in defence.
Radamel Falcao (AS Monaco) – There might not be a better renaissance story in football at this moment in time than El Tigre. The Colombian international looked lost in England and was written off as a top-tier footballer after his serious knee injury.
However, Falcao has bounced back in extraordinary fashion last year and has maintained that form into the 2017/18 season. He tops the Ligue 1 charts with seven strikes already and with a number of new faces around him up top, the weight of Monaco’s expectations fall on his shoulders.
Timo Werner (RB Leipzig) – Having first burst on to the scene at Stuttgart aged just 17, many thought that Timo Werner would become a world beater. It took a little longer than anticipated but since his move to Leipzig, the dimunative forward has flown into the stratosphere.
Fast, surprisingly strong and a quality finisher, the 21-year-old has not only cemented his spot as the main man in Saxony, he’s also Germany’s new darling centre-forward. Currently on an incredible hot-streak, Kamil Glik and Jemerson will have to be on high alert to keep out Werner for 90 minutes.
This is a tough one to call in what is probably the most competitive group in the Champions League this season. Leipzig will be buoyed by their first game in the competition yet Monaco have been excellent party poopers in the past, especially in Europe.
Both have great firepower, with the Germans excelling on the counter and the Ligue 1 champions a little more adept at creating from half-pitch sets than in the past. With Kylian Mbappe gone and Thomas Lemar missing, there might not be enough pace in attacking areas for Leonardo Jardim to exploit an overeager opponent.
Expect Leipzig to come out a little nervy and possibly concede early, only to eventually break Monaco’s resistance in the second half, leading to a frenzy. Eventually, both teams will come out of this smelling of roses and hopeful that either will qualify from this high-quality Champions League group.
Result: RB Leipzig 2-2 AS Monaco