Ligue 1, Matchday 2, 20/08/2023
A reborn Takumi Minamino played a starring role as AS Monaco beat RC Strasbourg Alsace (3-0) in Adi Hütter’s first game as manager at the Stade Louis II.
Monaco started with a very untested defence. The only member of the back line to have a Ligue 1 appearance to their name was Soungoutou Magassa, who only made his first Ligue 1 start in last weekend’s 4-2 victory over Clermont Foot. However, it became apparent quite early on that this backline wouldn’t be tested by a Strasbourg side that showed little to no ambition.
Les Alsaciens were at least compact in the opening changes, but a speculative long-range effort from Minamino broke their resistance. By the time the water break came (27′), Monaco had had 74% possession, and Strasbourg couldn’t get a foothold in the game. Former Alsacien Youssouf Fofana, as well as his midfield partner Mohamed Camara were central to that. The pair worked hard in and out of possession throughout.
Minamino then doubled his tally before the break, directing Caio Henrique’s pinpoint cross past Matz Sels. The half-time break didn’t stem Monaco’s momentum. Strasbourg remained passive, Monaco active, and Wissam Ben Yedder added a third with a deflected effort. Minamino got the assist, adding to an already impressive performance.
On a humid, energy-sapping night at the Stade Louis II, the energy drained out of the match in the closing stages. Eliot Matazo went close to making it four, but a strong Sels hand prevented further embarrassment for Patrick Vieira’s side.
Monaco player ratings
Philipp Köhn – 5
Soungoutou Magassa – 6
Denis Zakaria – 7 – not in his most natural position, but you couldn’t tell. Due to injuries, Zakaria made his Monaco debut at centre-back. At his best, the Swiss international toys with those that press him, and he did just that. His ball-playing ability from the back allowed Les Monégasques to dominate possession, and he never looked unsettled. About a serene a debut as he could have hoped for given that he was being played out of position.
Wilfried Singo – 7
Caio Henrique – 7 – the serial assister added to his tally. Since the 2020/21 season, he has 22 to his name. No Brazilian player has made more in Europe’s top five leagues during this period (level with Neymar and Vinícius Júnior). Henrique’s defensive weaknesses were at times exacerbated by Monaco’s system last season, but he is looking more at ease in these early games under Hütter.
Mohamed Camara – 7 – a welcome return to form for Camara, who after a great start to life with Les Monégasques, tailed off considerably towards the end of the season. He showed the right level of aggression off the ball and the perfect level of composure and decision-making on it.
Youssouf Fofana – 7
Vanderson – 6
Aleksandr Golovin – 5
Wissam Ben Yedder – 6
Takumi Minamino – 9 – A player reborn. Where was this Minamino last season? In just one half, the Japanese international beat his tally from the last Ligue 1 campaign. His first was a brilliant long-range strike, the second a composed finish, add to that an assist as well, and it was a near-perfect day for Minamino. The former Liverpool player is oozing with confidence, having looked so lost in the side last season. If he can reproduce this form consistently, he will be like a new signing.