The game dubbed as “The Hipster Final” to many, the realists in the room know that this could be a real slobberknocker. AS Monaco have dazzled all of Europe with their ambitious, young attacking side while Borussia Dortmund have been playing that tune for years.
Both will clash at the Signal Iduna Park tonight, with neither showing any particular steel at the back but possessing a wealth of talent in the final third. That’s a potent cocktail for any football match but given what we saw in almost every game in the last round of the Champions League, this one could be a stunner.
Do not blink, you might just miss something.
Monaco will be without Djibril Sidibé, who is in hospital with appendicitis. Youngster Almamy Touré, who did so well in the round of 16 two years ago against Arsenal, is expected to deputise in his place.
Tiemoué Bakayoko is also missing through suspension, having picked up a second yellow in the last round against Manchester City. Should manager Leonardo Jardim stick to his favoured 4-4-2 tactic, expect Joao Moutinho to slide into the team in a similar role to what we saw in the Coupe de la Ligue final a few weeks ago.
Dortmund had several players missing in their last league game against Bayern Munich at the weekend, but Marco Reus returned to training yesterday. The German international is expected to play a part but it is more likely he will start on the bench, having missed over a month of action.
There are doubts over the fitness of Shinji Kagawa, Andre Schurrle, Julian Weigl and Lukasz Piszczek as well, with manager Thomas Tuchel not quite giving enough away as to any of their current statuses. Look for the Germans to start with a 3-5-2 formation, with former Ligue 1 star Ousmane Dembele playing in the centre of midfield.
Bernardo Silva (AS Monaco) – While the strikers are important to Monaco, it’s Bernardo Silva’s moments of brilliance that give them that extra edge. The Portuguese is a maestro with the ball at his feet and when allowed to, he can dominate a football game.
Even when the principality side are playing poorly, Silva seems to do something a little magical. He has wonderful technique, surprising strength and if he can find the freedom between the lines of Dortmund’s formation, he could make a huge difference.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund) – Who else but the former Saint-Etienne man? He is the Bundesliga’s second top goalscorer and with 32 in all competitions this season, the Gabonese international has 25 more strikes than anyone else in yellow.
You don’t need me to tell you his strengths, his pace and finishing ability is obvious to anyone who’s seen Dortmund play over the past few years. If he’s allowed the freedom to find space in behind Monaco, he will punish you over and over and over again.
This game is really tough to predict. If Monaco’s season was not going so fantastically as an attacking side, Jardim may have been more conservative and played on the counter but that simply isn’t going to happen.
Again, if Tuchel had another way to play, he may go for the jugular and try to sit on a 1-0 lead knowing how big no away goals could be. However, much like the man in the other dugout, he’s not really afforded that luxury with his squad.
With that in mind, expect a wild heavyweight boxing match. These two will create a breathless, end-to-end affair where they attempt to trade haymaker after haymaker in the hopes that one of their swings will finally knock the other out.
It won’t but neither will be too concerned with the result overall, just so long as they don’t lose. They’ll just have to rest up to do it all over again in a few weeks’ time. Open up your schedule, get the snacks in and find your spot on the sofa because believe us when we say this, this will be a blockbuster.
Result: Borussia Dortmund 3-3 Monaco