Coupe de la Ligue Semi Finals : Monaco v Nancy
The first semi-final finished Bordeaux 1 – 4 Paris-Saint Germain as the holders rolled over their hosts with braces from Angel Di Maria and Edinson Cavani. Eric Devin looks at the match-up to decide who will face PSG in their fourth consecutive final.
Given the clubs involved and their histories, it is likely that, of the two Coupe de la Ligue semifinals this midweek, more attention will be focused on Tuesday night’s match at the Stade Matmut Atlantique between Bordeaux and Paris Saint-Germain. Nancy’s visit to Monaco, then, especially given the frequent lack of anything resembling a crowd at the Stade Louis II, is potentially looked upon as being a bit of a comedown, despite a cup final being at stake. But, one would have likely assumed the same of Monaco’s two previous cup fixtures, a 2-1 win over AC Ajaccio in the Coupe de France, and their elimination of Sochaux on penalties in quarter-final. Both were closer than expected.
Monaco struggled to be as clinical and direct as they usually are in both of those matches, and their middling performances may have kindled a certain level of belief in a Nancy side that, despite struggling with injuries, has been in increasingly good form over the past two months. Manager Pablo Correa was also in charge in 2006, when Nancy won this competition, and a return to full health for his squad is paramount given his rotation policy. An extra week’s rest should see his side in good nick following the cancellation of their match against Caen at the weekend, with the team having acclimated by training in Cannes since Sunday.
That is not to say Nancy aren’t without a few misses, aside from Africa Cup of Nations absentees Serge N’Guessan and Youssef Ait Bennasser. Benoit Pedretti has been announced as a late scratch with swelling in his knee, and defender Michael Chrétien is still absent with a hamstring injury suffered against Nantes in the previous round, but the team will be buoyed by the potential return of goalkeeper Guy-Roland N’Dy Assembé. Belorussian international Sergei Chernik has deputized, and while the former BATE Borisov man is a decent option, having conceded just one goal in his last six appearances, N’dy Assembé offers a more assured presence, especially when dealing with crosses. That said, this is the first of three successive midweek fixtures for Nancy, before factoring in the postponed match at Caen; Correa may be in no rush to bring back the Cameroonian in the midst of such fixture congestion.
For Monaco, who haven’t won a trophy since the 2002-3 edition of the Coupe de la Ligue, there is a renewed focus on a competition which had been approached dismissively in the earlier rounds. Leonard Jardim made wholesale changes in the 7-0 win over Rennes and offered up a somewhat rotated side against Sochaux before bringing on the likes of Djibril Sidibé and Bernardo Silva at the interval. Those changes were obviously done with an eye towards the following weekend’s match against Marseille, but Sunday’s trip to Paris Saint-Germain seems not to carry the same import, with the club’s Twitter feed currently littered with the ObjectifFinale hashtag.
Even with the club putting focus on this match on social media, there will be a few changes made, with Joao Moutinho, scorer of a superb equalizer against Sochaux, likely coming in for Fabinho. Up top, Guido Carrillo and Kylian Mbappé-Lottin will partner each other, keeping Valere Germain and Falcao as options off the bench. Even with an eleven that is a small step down from their first-choice group, Monaco are still overwhelming favorites, their brief dip in form around the turn of the year a thing of the past after scoring eight goals in their last two league matches.
Nancy, despite their good organization, still lack a potent goal-scorer; even if Monaco can be got at on the counter, the dearth of clinical finishers available to Correa will probably make the difference here.
AS Monaco (4-4-2): Danijel Subasic; Djibril Sidibé, Kamil Glik, Jemerson, Benjamin Mendy; Bernardo Silva, Joao Moutinho, Tiemoué Bakayoko, Thomas Lemar; Guido Carrillo, Kylian Mbappé-Lottin
AS Nancy-Lorraine (4-3-3): Sergei Chernik; Joffrey Cuffaut, Modou Diagné, Tobias Badila, Vincent Muratori; Julien Cétout, Alou Diarra, Dialo Guidileye; Issiar Dia, Junior Dalé, Karim Coulibaly
AS Monaco 3-1 AS Nancy-Lorraine