When the two teams square off on Sunday at Stade Raymond Kopa, Angers, who are already certain to be relegated from Ligue 1, can still hurt Monaco’s chances of qualifying for Europe.
Les Scoistes, who lost 4-2 to Rennes last weekend, are still at the bottom of the standings with 14 points, and Monaco, who lost 4-0 to Montpellier HSC, are just holding on to a space in the Europa League.
Angers was relegated to Ligue 2 with five games left after failing to avoid it with a 4-2 loss to Rennes on the previous matchday. If converted to three points for a win, Les Scostes’ only goal going forward is to avoid finishing dead last, but even that seems improbable for a team with the joint second fewest points in Ligue 1 after 33 games.
If Angers wants to beat Lens in 1988/89, the poorest Ligue 1 team ever, they must win four of their final five games. It’s challenging to argue that they will gain anything from their upcoming two games against current top four opponents, against whom they have failed to earn a point this year while giving up at least twice in each of their six losses (L6).
In order to break a streak of eight straight goals conceded without a response and maintain their top-four position, Monaco appears to have picked the ideal time to play one of the poorest teams in history. A UEFA Champions League spot may be out of reach with the seven-point deficit to third, but with several teams closing in behind, they must recover from successive losses to keep their Europa League position.
Given Monaco’s near perfect record (W11, D2, L1) against teams starting the round in the bottom eight, optimism for a comeback should be strong. In fact, the principality club has scored 11 goals and only given one back in three league games against the lowest two teams, a statistic that may give fans hope for keeping their six games winning streak in away head to head matches (W4, D2).
Last weekend, Nabil Bentaleb scored his second penalty of the year, but it ended up being the fifth league game in seven where Angers scored first but lost (W2, D1, L4). Wissam Ben Yedder provided a brace of assists against Lorient, but Monaco hasn’t scored in more than three hours of play, and now he faces the possibility of receiving a yellow card three times in a row for the first time in his career.
Ulrick Eneme Ella (knee), Ali Kalla (knee), Farid El Melali (knee), Ilyes Chetti (thigh), Pierrick Capelle (thigh), Halid Sabanovic (thigh), Amine Salama (muscle), and Faouzi Ghoulam (Achilles) are all in danger of missing yet another match due to injury going into this match on Sunday.
Last week, Angers defeated Stade Rennais despite Nabil Bentaleb and Ibrahima Niane scoring in the first half. However, Cedric Hountondji’s own goal did not assist their cause.
Sabanovic scored the sole goal in their previous home victory against Lille last month (1-0), and Paul Bernardoni stopped five shots to keep a clean sheet on that occasion. Adrien Hunou, who is tied with Bentaleb for the team lead in goals (four), has not scored in back to back games.
Breel Embolo, who had previously had a sprained knee, is anticipated to return around the same time as Malang Sarr, who is not anticipated to return for Monaco until the middle of this month due to an abdominal injury. Maghnes Akliouche will be out for a few more weeks due to a condition.
Wissam Ben Yedder, their leading scorer, has gone five games without scoring in this competition. He currently has 17 goals for the season, one fewer than Folarin Balogun and Lois Openda, who are tied for fourth in Ligue 1 scoring. Alexander Nubel has given up seven goals in his last two Ligue 1 appearances, which is more than he did in his previous five top flight games combined.
Seven of Monaco’s last 11 goals against Angers in this competition have involved Kevin Volland, including two from their previous trip to Stade Raymond Kopa last season, when Axel Disasi, Myron Boadu, and former winger Sofiane Diop all scored in a 3-1 victory.
Possible starting lineup for Angers
Bernardoni, Bamba, Valery, Hountondji, Blazic, Doumbia, Bentaleb, Mendy, Taibi, Hunou and Niane.
Possible starting lineup for Monaco
Nubel, Vanderson, Disasi, Maripan, Henrique, Fofana, Camara, Golovin, Ben Seghir, Volland and Ben Yedder.
We Predict: Angers 0-2 Monaco
Angers have nothing to lose because their relegation is already guaranteed. Despite this, Le SCO do not appear likely to snap their losing streak against Monaco, who have defeated them in six straight matches in the top flight. In fact, Les Scoistes have gone scoreless in 10 of their previous 12 league encounters with Les Monegasques.
We anticipate that even if Monaco is currently at an all time low and still has a chance to participate in Europe next season, they will be sufficiently motivated to play more intelligently and resolutely against the weakest Ligue 1 team.