Ligue 1: Monaco-Lille, duel of contenders under pressure in the Principality

They are targeting Europe but they are not making much progress: Sunday at Louis II, Monaco, fourth in Ligue 1 (64 points), receives Lille, fifth (59 points), for a duel in which the loser risks abandoning his illusions Europeans at the end of the season.

. Sinusoidal dynamics

The week preceding the victory in Angers (2-1) was intense in the Principality, between crisis meetings, tough speeches and sanctions against captain Wissam Ben Yedder, deprived of a trip to Anjou after missing a talk.

Philippe Clement’s men recovered after two monumental setbacks (3-0 at Lens, 4-0 against Montpellier) but Monaco remain far from their final dynamic of last season (nine wins, one draw).

ASM has only taken seven points in the last five games, a worrying record when its three direct competitors for the Europa League, Lille, Lyon and Rennes, now stand in the next three days.

“We only have finals left,” explains Clement. “There is a lot of desire. This match against Lille is very important, but it is even more so for Lille”.

Because the Northerners, who in recent weeks have oscillated between the hope of returning to Monaco and the fear of being overtaken by Lyon and Rennes, who are only three lengths behind, have also dropped eight points in five matches (defeats in Angers and Reims, zero in Auxerre).

“I am wary of Lyon and Rennes,” admits Lille defender Bafodé Diakité. “Lyon is coming back slowly, but strongly”. Faced with this bad patch, Dogues coach Paulo Fonseca called on his players to “understand the capital importance” of this trip.

. Situations internes complexes

Monaco is at the end of the cycle, as indicated by the announced departure of English sporting director Paul Mitchell, who should be replaced by one of his relatives, the Brazilian Thiago Scuro, current executive director of Red Bull Bragantino.

Despite Clement and Mitchell’s desire to push the group to excellence, this information weighed on the collective dynamic and many important players are considering a transfer. Clement has therefore unbolted certain statutes and changed his system in the face of his team’s defensive negligence (13th defense in L1, 51 goals conceded).

Lille's French defender Bafode Diakité (l.) celebrates his goal during the Ligue 1 match against Stade Brestois, in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, on February 24, 2023 (AFP/Archives - DENIS CHARLET)
Lille’s French defender Bafode Diakité (l.) celebrates his goal during the Ligue 1 match against Stade Brestois, in Villeneuve-d’Ascq, on February 24, 2023 (AFP/Archives – DENIS CHARLET)

“It was important to change things,” he concedes. “There was a reaction and there is now a battle between players for these last four matches”. If the group lives well this recovery in hand, the owners Ben Yedder and Maripan will still be absent (suspended) against Lille, where the mixed results did not give rise to tensions. “We are in a period where things are not going well, we are sticking together to come back,” says Diakité.

On the other hand, relations are more conflictual between Fonseca and its president, Olivier Létang. Since January, the coach has regularly regretted the absence of winter recruitment in certain key positions. “I’m not happy with the transfer window,” he said again in April, after a series of injuries which notably forced him to field winger Timothy Weah as left-back.

. What if Europe escaped?

The future of Fonseca, under contract until 2024, could therefore depend as much on his relations with Létang as on the final classification. But the Portuguese said on Friday that it would be “different next season if we play Europe”.

“We need better players, more players, more options,” he said. If Rémy Cabella recently extended until 2025, Lille will probably have to do without André Gomes, a big salary on loan from Everton.

For his Monegasque counterpart, a season without Europe is unthinkable. According to Clement, this was never even discussed with its billionaire chairman Dmitry Rybolovlev.

“We are very ambitious, I am a winner, we are thinking of playing Europe next season”, assures the Belgian technician who would in any case find it difficult to resist a possible non-qualification.

Monaco's French defender Axel Disasi warms up before the L1 match against Lorient, in Monaco, on April 16, 2023 (AFP/Archives - CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU)
Monaco’s French defender Axel Disasi warms up before the L1 match against Lorient, in Monaco, on April 16, 2023 (AFP/Archives – CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU)

On the other hand, Monaco, which will probably not compete in the C1, will have to balance its budget with departures. Axel Disasi, very courted, was valued at nearly 40 million euros. Youssouf Fofana, Caio Henrique, even Wissam Ben Yedder could also leave.

Source: Challenges en temps réel : accueil by

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