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Champions League PREVIEW | AS Monaco vs RB Leipzig

It’s all or nothing. A win at home to RB Leipzig tonight will keep Monaco in the hunt for at least another week, a defeat will kick them out of Europe for good this season.

The positive is that the Saxony side are yet to win away from home in the Champions League this season, with the bad news likely to come from elsewhere. A win for Porto will deny them any chance of progress to the next round, with a victory in the Stade Louis II handing them a chance at Europa League redemption.

A cat has nine lives, Monaco have used at least eight. Will this be part of their redemption story or the final nail in their Champions League coffin?

Team News

Monaco will still be without Thomas Lemar for this crucial fixture with the French international nursing a shoulder injury that he picked up in late October. Keita Balde is expected to deputise in his absence on the left flank.

The Ligue 1 side will also be short at right back, with Djibril Sidibe suffering from a knock and Almamy Toure out through illness. Andrea Raggi will likely remain in the defence, with the Italian struggling against a stubborn Amiens side at the weekend.

However, the principality club will be delighted to welcome back Radamel Falcao to the fold, with the captain returning in their 1-1 draw at the weekend.

The visitors have a much shorter injury list, with defensive midfielder Stefan Ilsanker their only absentee. Leipzig are off the back of a 2-2 draw with Bayer Leverkusen at the weekend and currently sit third in the Bundesliga table.

Rassenbullsport also could boast two French names in the starting line-up, with France under-21 international Dayot Upamecano in defence and former Paris Saint-Germain forward Jean-Kevin Augustin in attack.

Danger Men

Fabinho (AS Monaco) –  Have we all forgotten about the Brazilian? Monaco’s key man, the glue that held everything together last season has been lost in the shuffle of names that have left and the malaise the team have found itself in the start of this campaign.

A defensive powerhouse that also showed that he hasn’t forgot the attacking side of things with a tidy assist at the weekend, leave him out of your plans at your peril. If he can start to influence those around him to buck up their ideas, it will go part of the way in getting Leonardo Jardim’s men back on track.

Emil Forsberg (RB Leipzig) – The assist king of last season and fresh off helping Sweden reach the World Cup, Forsberg is currently on top of the world. The 26-year-old has had a meteoric rise over the past few years and is the real heartbeat of RB Leipzig’s success.

Capable of making the right pass, driving at the opposition, finding a surprising amount of space or scoring himself, he has a little bit of it all. Robbed of the Best Player in Sweden award yesterday, Forsberg will want to show exactly why he’s the Scandinavian’s best hope of a hero post-Zlatan.

Prediction

Leipzig are a fantastic, quick football team. That is the kryptonite of most teams looking for a big result but teams with pace have cut through Monaco like a hot knife through butter this season.

Look for Jardim to set up a little more cautiously, wary that the German’s possess so much on the counter. As they gain a stranglehold of proceedings, they begin to create against a creaky defence but they still remain a little too blunt in the final third.

A speedy attack with too many caught forward gives Ralf Hassenhuttl’s men the edge going into half-time, with the pressure just mounting enough for Monaco to grab an equaliser. It won’t be enough, Monaco will fail at the first hurdle and will need results to dramatically go their way to even make the Europa League.

A nightmare end to their fairytale.

Result: AS Monaco 1–1 RB Leipzig

 



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