On Sunday night, Olympique Lyonnais will host AS Monaco at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais. This match will see two teams sat next to each other in the table do battle – Monaco in eighth and Lyon in ninth – and both will think they have a great chance at winning and progressing up the league. Lyon’s last match against Strasbourg saw them deliver an impressive win with Memphis Depay leading his team with three assists. Meanwhile, Monaco would be feeling frustrated from last week’s draw against Montpellier. They went down to 10 men as Aurélien Tchouaméni saw red in the 55th minute.
That being said, Monaco were able to sustain 80% possession of the ball and manage 21 shots against Montpellier. Their goal came from their captain Wissam Ben Yedder, who now has four goals in his last four games for the club. This preview will provide a tactical analysis into how might the game unfold between two teams looking to further advance up the table in Ligue 1.
The hosts Lyon have been flexible in the way they have set up this season. Rudi Garcia has had his men deployed in 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1, and 3-4-3 formations this season. Garcia most recently used 4-3-3 to great effect against Strasbourg last weekend. Lyon play direct and fast football with the use of their very quick and effective forwards. Karl Toko Ekambi, Tino Kadewere, and Depay provide Lyon with an attacking trident that many teams in Ligue 1 fear. These three will look to continue their form from last weekend and bring it into this match on Sunday.
For Monaco, the tactics that Niko Kovač uses sets his team up in a Liverpool-esque 4-3-3. They enjoy playing with possession of the ball and spreading the field as wide as possible when in possession. The Liverpool similarities are that they play with high and wide full-backs that like to switch the ball, with Wissam Ben Yedder having the ability to drop deep. Now, the analysis will focus on Monaco’s play and how it resembles Liverpool’s style.
Monaco’s possession-based play
Monaco set up in a 4-3-3 system that plays with high full-backs, two inverted wingers, and a forward who is very comfortable playing deep. It all seems very similar to a team on Merseyside, and that’s because it is.
The map above shows the average positions of the Monaco players in their most recent match against Montpellier. From this map, you can see how Monaco, when in possession, can transition themselves from a 4-3-3 into a 3-4-3.
New holding midfielder Florentino Luís drops deep between the two centre-backs when Monaco have possession. Meanwhile, the full-backs push up high and wide to provide passing options. This set up can also be seen below.
You can see in this image how Monaco in possession are set up in a 3-4-3. They have Luís, who is highlighted in blue, between the two centre-backs and is bringing the ball forward. The two full-backs are highlighted in pink, and they are pushed high and wide to allow for creating passing options.
You can see that the left-back, Djibril Sidibé, is almost in line with the left-winger Gelson Martins. What all of this allows for is greater dominance of the field with players spread out all over the pitch to support a possession-based game. From the first five minutes, four balls were played from the left-back to the right-back and vice versa.
One of the successful switch balls to Ruben Aguilar is shown above. This was a regular occurrence throughout the match as Montpellier opted to play with a back three, giving Monaco lots of space in behind. This resulted in Aguilar being extremely busy throughout the match, having been involved in 127 actions through the clash, and completing 81 of his 96 passes. The possession was very much in favour of Monaco in this game, and in the past two matches, they have recorded a very high possession rate. They recorded 76% against Montpellier and 72% in their loss to Brest.
While possession doesn’t result in goals, Monaco managed to have 19 shots against Montpellier and 21 against Brest. Overall, this shows that Monaco can play a possession-based style with a high amount of possession, and produce lots of goal attempts. In their match against Lyon, they will need to turn this high amount of possession and shots into goals. Something that Monaco has been lacking recently in their matches.
Opposition’s attraction to Depay
Depay’s long term future at the club is unknown due to his move that didn’t come in the summer to Barcelona, and the fact that he seems to still want to move. That being said, he is enjoying a very positive start to his Ligue 1 campaign. He managed three assists in his last match against Strasbourg. He is known for being a winger, but over the past year, he has begun playing centrally much more often to great effect for Lyon.
Out of the seven games so far this campaign, Depay has started as a central striker four times. From these Seven matches, he is managed to collect four goals and three assists. What has made him so effective and important for Lyon is his movement and his ability to attract attention to him, freeing up his teammates.
The image above shows a highlight of Depay’s movements in the most recent match against Strasbourg. What can be seen here is in the first image Depay is central and he makes an arching run out to the right side. This causes the Strasbourg centre-back Stefan Mitrović (highlighted in yellow) to get of position and follow Depay. The ripple effect of this movement frees up time and space for Houssem Aouar to receive the pass and try and move forward (Aouar is highlighted in the red square).
This move by Depay also allows Kadewere (highlighted in pink) to make a run inside and centrally. While this move did not lead to a goal, it shows the effect that Depay has on the opposition, and the chances he can create with his intelligent runs.
Attention to Depay can also be seen in the build-up to the first goal for Lyon against Strasbourg above. Depay receives the ball in a more withdrawn position and is given time and space as highlighted in the pink circle. Mitrović, the Strasbourg defender, has identified this but is unsure to pressure him or wait for Depay to move.
With the other centre-back up the field, the last defender is the left-back Lionel Carole. Carole saw the run of the right-winger Kadewere, but he still watches Depay and tries to catch Kadewere offside. This doesn’t work as Depay times his passes to Kadewere correctly and can collect the ball and open the score to make it 1-0.
Depay has shown his ability to not only make intelligent runs, but also the ability to drop deep and play passes forward to on running forwards. His presence on the pitch attracts attention, freeing up his teammates to make positive runs. For Monaco, they will certainly be aware of this and might have to adjust. Monaco like to play deep and press their full-backs up high as highlighted earlier will have to be wary of Depay as his movements prove to be deadly in behind and front.
Monaco’s fluid front three
As mentioned earlier, Kovač sets his team up tactically in a very similar style to that of Liverpool. The same can be said of his front three: Gelson Martins, Ben Yedder and the recently signed Kevin Volland. This front trio provides Monaco with three players that are all comfortable playing in any of the three positions available to them.
The right-footed Martins will start on the left, with Ben Yedder through the middle and the left-footed Volland on the right. However, through the matches they have played, they will constantly interchange positions making it difficult for the opposition to track their runs.
Above you will Luís on the ball in red about to play a ball towards Ben Yedder, the number nine playing as the left winger currently. You will also see Martins, who has come inside and is asking for the ball to feet.
The third forward Volland is about to make a run inside anticipating the ball to be played either over the top to Ben Yedder, or to the feet of Martins.
The ball was ultimately played over the top for Ben Yedder, who heads it back into the middle. Martins and Volland have identified this and have adjusted their runs accordingly. Martins receives the ball but scuffs his shot.
While the attacking move may not have come to anything, the movement by this front three had confused the Montpelier defence and taken them out of position.
Another instance where the front three of Monaco proved to be effective can be seen above. This time however it is Volland (highlighted in blue) who is playing centrally with Ben Yedder playing on the right (highlighted in Yellow). The ball is about to be played in by the left-back Djibril Sidibé.
Both Volland and Ben Yedder make a run into the box anticipating the ball to be played in. Meanwhile, Aurélien Tchouaméni (highlighted within the red box) is unmarked as the Montpleiier defence was more concerned about the runs by Volland and Ben Yedder.
The ball was played by Sidibé into the box which Volland would successfully chest back towards the unmarked Tchouaméni. Tchouaméni would have his shot blocked but the rebound would fall to Ben Yedder who would go on to score. Unfortunately for Monaco, Ben Yedder was offside for his goal.
Although the goal was ruled offside, this run of the play shows the effectiveness of the interchange of the forward three that Monaco play with. It also shows how the attention towards Monaco’s front three allowed an unmarked player to be free in space and create a chance.
The match on Sunday will see two teams that possess great attacking threats. Lyon will look to Depay to lead the attacking line. They will look to play in behind the advanced Monaco full-backs. The attraction to Depay will allow time on the ball for Lyon players as well as free movement into space.
Meanwhile, Monaco will fancy their chances against Lyon. They will look to build up from deep and create chances from their interchanging front three. Regardless of the outcome, this match will bring goals to the occasion.