Can AS Monaco Finish Best of the Rest in Ligue 1?

Ben Wylie

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Can AS Monaco Finish Best of the Rest in Ligue 1?

Until recently, AS Monaco looked down and out in Ligue 1, with Phillippe Clements's side even a doubt to achieve European football next season, however, fast-forward a few weeks and one sublime run of form later, the Monegasques sit 3rd with just two games to go, with a real shot at ending the campaign in second.

The difference between finishing in second and third in Ligue 1 is major, as while a third-place finish sees a team enter the Champions League in the qualification rounds, second guarantees a place in the group stages, offering real incentive to end the season as Ligue 1’s runner-up.

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So, What’s Changed?

Following some patchy mid-season form, Monaco has put together a run of eight consecutive wins, kicked off by a surprise 3-0 victory over PSG in March. In this period, Clement’s side has scored 19 times, averaging just under 2.4 goals a game whilst conceding just six in return becoming France’s form side.

While this drastic upturn in form has no doubt been a team effort, two players have been standout performers at the Stade Louis recently, both helping fire their side into Champions League contention.

Breakout star Aurelien Tchouameni has been a revolution in midfield, with the Frenchman now touted for a move to almost every top club in Europe. At just 22, Tchouameni has been a mainstay in the side, featuring in all but three of Monaco’s Ligue 1 fixtures, primarily partnering fellow countryman Youssouf Fofana at the base of midfield.

Tchouameni has played a box-to-box role this season, and although just three goals and one assist is a slightly underwhelming return, it was his two goals that saw Monaco claim all three points against Lille last weekend to help keep their dream of a second-place finish alive.

Although the midfielder will likely depart the Stade Louis this summer, Monaco will receive a mammoth fee for the 22-year-old, as Sofascore ranked the Frenchman as Ligue 1’s eighth-best player this campaign, illustrating just how crucial he has been for Clements's side.

Predictably, Monaco’s other standout performer this season has been forward Wissam Ben-Yedder, as his 21-league goals leaves him second in the scoring charts alongside Rennes Martin Terrier, bettered only by PSG’s Kylian Mbappe on 24.

At 31, the forward is the definition of consistency, as since joining Monaco back in 2019/20, Ben Yedder has scored 18+ goals in each of his three seasons in Ligue 1. Throughout Monaco’s winning streak, the Frenchman’s six goals have been invaluable to the Monegasques, and alongside German forward Kevin Volland, who has five goal contributions in this time, the duo has helped put points on the board for Clement.

Can Monaco really Finish Second?

With two games to go, Monaco is still in with a shot at second place, however, in being three points behind Marseille finds themselves in the unfortunate position of relying on their competitors dropping points.

Clement's side welcomes Brest this weekend before ending the season with a difficult trip to Lens. While both games are certainly winnable, Lens still has an outside shot of European football next campaign, and results dependent could go into the final matchday knowing a win would secure this unprecedented achievement for Franck Haise’s side.

As mentioned, Marseille must draw both or lose one of their remaining two to give any hope of a second-place finish for Monaco, however in facing fourth and fifth-placed Rennes and Strasbourg in their final two, it is unlikely Marseille will come out unscathed, and Monaco will be hopeful of capitalising on any dropped points.

From Monaco and Clements's perspective, all they can do is win their games, as ultimately, their fate is in Marseille, Rennes, and Strasbourg’s hands. Whatever happens, considering their position a few months ago, securing European football would be a real achievement this season, however with a Champions League group stage place within touching distance, the Monegasques have a monumental final two matchdays ahead of them.

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