On the evening of March 3, AS Monaco faced off against RC Strasbourg Alsace on their home ground of the Stade de la Meinau. Going into the match, the red and whites had managed to remain undefeated since December of last year, and would have been eager to maintain that magic run.
To face the Alsatians, head coach Niko Kovac opted to renew the same 3-4-3 formation that featured in Monaco’s last two matches against Paris and Brest, and to only swap out two starting players. On this occasion, Aleksandr Golovin and Djibril Sidibé started for the Principality side.
The match got off to a fairly balanced start, as both sides engaged in a midfield battle, keeping each other at a safe distance from their goal posts. In fact, it would be the hosts who would take the first shot of the match at the 13th minute, which Youssouf Fofana was able to divert.
The first half would see Monaco struggle to approach their opponents’ goal, an unusual occurrence for a team that has found so much success in that respect as of late. At the end of the first 45 minutes, the players returned to the locker-room with an empty scoreline.
As the second half commenced, Strasbourg wasted no time in taking more shots. Had it not been for the proactive defending of Guillermo Maripan, the red and whites would already be behind at the 46th minute. The following minutes showed no mercy for the visiting Monegasques either, as a series of alarming shots led to a handful of red and white substitutions.
As the minutes ticked by, the match remained goalless, and Monaco appeared to be slowly sailing towards their 13th unbeaten fixture in a row. However, Strasbourg’s Frédéric Guilbert had something to say about that, and made a breakthrough in the most crucial of moments. At 90+1 minutes of play, the Blue and White defender bested Monaco’s Benjamin Lecomte from 20 meters out, bringing the scoreline to 1-0 just before the match could conclude.
After a long match for Kovac and co, their famous unbeaten run has come to an end. From a shaky start to the season, to climbing up to fourth place on the Ligue 1 table, Monaco’s head coach and his young team have still pulled off an impressive feat.
Monaco’s next fixture will be more local, as the red and whites will travel to the Allianz Riviera Stadium to face off against Côte d’Azur rivals OGC Nice in the French Cup’s Round of 32.
Featured image: Team captain Wissam Ben Yedder