And now, the end is near, and so they face, the final curtain. My friends, I’ll say it clear, Monaco have been pretty dreadful.
They drew, then lost at home, then lost again, but drew in Turkey. Defeat, against Leipzig, sealed their fate, and early exit.
No Europa League place, only heartbreak after heartbreak. But more, much more than this, last Champions League preview.
The principality headed to Portugal without a number of senior players due to injury. Danjiel Subasic, Thomas Lemar, Gabriel Boschilia, Stevan Jovetic, Andrea Raggi, Youri Tielemans and Adama Traore are all missing either through knocks or are recovering from recent layoffs.
Leonardo Jardim admitted in his press conference that he would try some of the less experienced players in the squad, telling reporters: “There are five changes to our XI tomorrow, it is a great opportunity for our young players to play here against a good team.”
Porto have their fate in their own hands, knowing that a win will see them through as they hold the head-to-head against RB Leipzig.
Sergio Conceicao’s men are still atop of the Liga NOS on goal difference with an unbeaten record and they picked up a valuable point last time out against Besiktas in Turkey, which could help decide the group. FC Porto have no injury or suspension worries ahead of what could be an exciting night for them at the Estadio do Dragao.
Adama Diakhaby (AS Monaco) – While Jardim has hinted that some of the younger players will play, a lot have been seen fairly regularly so far for the club. However, the Champions League experience will be invaluable to all of them but especially for a forward they have high hopes for in Adama Diakhaby.
The former Rennes man did start the season but has been restricted more recently as the more recognisable names have moved in but this is a great chance to test his ceiling. A hard worker, quick and capable in front of goal, he might not quite be Kylian Mbappe but this is an ideal litmus test in how his development is going.
Yacine Brahimi (FC Porto) – The creative spark for Porto, Yacine Brahimi is a wonderful player to watch. The Algerian international has been the consistent star for the Portuguese giants for several years but is arguably in his best form this season.
Three assists already so far beat his previous best for an entire campaign, along with four goals just highlights his effectiveness in the final third. Deceptively quick, clever feet and a great end product, if he is allowed to serve the front two, it could be another long night for Monaco.
This is a tricky game to predict, given the team Monaco are likely to put out and the importance of a victory to Porto. The home side will be eager to get things done quickly but any side that unshackled from the burden of pressure can be dangerous if given the chance.
Expect Conceição to make sure his team establish themselves quickly and take a stranglehold that if Monaco can withstand, it could be a very interesting game. They won’t, given their defensive frailties this season and their real lack of depth, so Porto overpower a young side as they sail into the next round as Monaco’s fire finally peters out.
Result: FC Porto 2-0 AS Monaco