AS Monaco kicked off their UEFA Champions League campaign with a touch of Côte d’Azur class, as the Monegasques responded to rather unsporting crowds in the Generali Arena with two red and white goals.
For their first encounter in the UCL, Monaco travelled to the capital of the Czech Republic to face off against Sparta Prague on Tuesday, August 3.
On this occasion, head coach Niko Kovac brought out the big guns and arranged them in a 4-4-2 flat formation. Playing up front was the goal hungry duo of Wissam Ben Yedder and Kevin Volland, while summer signing Alexander Nübel started his first official match in red and white.
The visiting Monegasques seemed to dominate right from the start, and wasted no time in getting a few shots off. This appeared to frustrate the Prague fans, who resorted to whistling and heckling on an unacceptable level ahead of Aleksandr Golovin’s corner kick at the 37th minute.
Despite the deafening noise, Golovin executed a perfect cross, finding Aurélian Tchouameni in a very dangerous place. The young midfielder used his head to open the scoring with a statement to the so-called supporters, who quickly began to make some very unsavoury monkey sounds.
Unfortunately, Monaco’s moment was marred by the Prague supporters, who deployed terrible behaviour in order to display their dissatisfaction. As a result of this, the match was paused for a few minutes, in which time a message was broadcasted to the trouble makers. An approach that some fans have said is far too lenient, given the outright racist context.
The match was then able to resume before halftime, and as the second half got under way, Monaco went right back onto the offensive. It didn’t take long for the visitors to double their lead through a fine finish courtesy of Volland, making it 0-2 at the 59th minute.
Monaco controlled the pace of the match well, and as the rain began to fall towards the end of the second half, Kovac brought on summer signing Ismail Jakobs. The German international very nearly scored on his competitive debut at the 79th minute, just moments after coming onto the pitch.
As the match concluded, the visiting Monegasques emerged victorious, taking a crucial 0-2 win in front of a bad crowd. Speaking in a press conference afterwards, Kovac said “We won our match on the pitch, and also our match against racism.”
However, this will not be the last that we’ll see of Prague, because Monaco will welcome them to the Stade Louis II on Tuesday, August 10 to play out the second leg in the hope of qualifying for the UCL.
Before then, the boys in red and white will begin their 2021/22 Ligue 1 regular season at home against Nantes on Friday, August 6.
Featured image courtesy of AS Monaco