AS Monaco makes the journey up to the west of France to take on Angers in Ligue 1 action this weekend, in what will be the first of 7 top-flight French football matches to be played this Sunday.
Only Monaco come into this match with something still to play for, because following their 4-2 defeat away to Rennes on Sunday, Angers’ relegation from the top-flight was finally confirmed.
That defeat was Les Scoistes’ 25th of what has been a miserable campaign in which they have accumulated a paltry 14 points and have won just three league matches all season. It, therefore, means that their 8-year stay in Ligue 1 has now come to an end after their initial promotion from the second tier at the end of the 2014-15 season.
Currently lagging eight points behind 19th-place Ajaccio and with absolutely nothing left to play for, Angers face a tough test this weekend in Monaco, who do still have something to play for going into these final few weeks of the season.
With just five matches of the league campaign left to play, Monaco are still firmly in the hunt for a spot in European competition for next year. Les Monegasques currently sit in 4th place on 61 points, and were they to finish the season in that position, then that would guarantee them a place in the group stage of next season’s Europa League.
However, 5th-place Lille are just two points behind the principality side, and with arguably the easier run-in of the two clubs, they will be hopeful of pipping them to 4th spot. So with very little room to slip up, Monaco will need to pick up maximum points from their remaining fixtures to ensure their place in the Europa League for next year. Therefore, this match against the division’s bottom side presents Philippe Clement’s men with the opportunity to pick up what should be an easy and routine win.
Despite the torrid season that they have had, arguably the high point of this campaign for Angers was when they picked up their third win of the season by beating 5th-place Lille towards the beginning of last month, thereby bringing to an end Les Dogues’ then five-match unbeaten run.
That recent 1-0 victory was Angers’ first in the league since Matchday eight when they then triumphed over Nice. But that win over Lille means that Angers at least have a win this month, something that they have not managed since September. Alexandre Dujeux’s side have lost their last three games on the bounce, and have recorded a defeat from 11 of their last 15 league outings. That kind of form does not bode well against Monaco, a club who Angers have not defeated in the top-flight since 2018 and only twice overall from their 15 previous meetings.
But, Monaco themselves come into the match on somewhat poor form, having lost two of their last six league matches and have dropped points unnecessarily. Those two recent defeats saw Monaco ship three goals away at Lens before conceding four at home to bottom-half side Montpellier, which are results that should not be happening at all if they want to secure a spot in Europe. These two recent defeats followed up what were expected wins over relegation-battling Strasbourg and Ajaccio, and midtable Lorient, but Monaco did also drop further points in a 2-2 draw with another relegation-threatened side in Nantes.
Going into the final few weeks of the season and with Europa League football on the line, they can not afford any more results like those.
However, despite their poor form, Monaco should ultimately emerge from this match with the three points. In Angers, they are facing the division’s worst side, who have been rooted to the foot of the table since Matchday 12, a run stretching back the last 22 gameweeks and that has seen them taste defeat 18 times.
One of those 18 aforementioned defeats was in the reverse of this fixture back in October, with Monaco running out 2-0 winners. We should see a similar scoreline this weekend at the Stade Raymond-Kopa. Angers are priced at 6/2 odds to secure a win, while the visitors are priced at 2/5 odds to walk away with the three points.
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