Coupe de France 2019/20: Monaco vs Reims – tactical analysis
Monaco sacked Portuguese manager Leonardo Jardim once again in December and immediately replaced him with Moreno. The ambitious manager – who previously took charge of the Spain national team only to resign five months later despite an impressive unbeaten run – now looks to bring stability to an already strong Monaco squad.
Meanwhile, Reims – who are currently managed by David Guion – have been on a magnificent run so far as they enjoy an impressive campaign. Guion’s side have built an impenetrable wall in defence, conceding only 10 goals so far in Ligue 1 (tied at the top ranking for fewest goals conceded) and they are currently sitting in seventh place in the table whilst also qualifying to the quarter-finals of Coupe de la Ligue.
Starting XI: Lecomte – Henrichs, Glik, Maripán, Ballo-Touré – Bakayoko, Golovin, Fàbregas – Martins, Baldé, Ben Yedder
Bench: Sy, Badiashile, Silva, Augustin, Dias, Jovetić, Slimani
Moreno deployed his team in a 4-3-3 system in this game. So far this season, Monaco have only played twice (including this game) with a 4-3-3 system and one of them resulted in a big loss (0-3 at home against Lille). However, Jardim’s 4-3-3 and Moreno’s 4-3-3 looked much different. One may even say that Moreno’s 4-3-3 seemed to be the better version than Jardim’s.
Monaco previously used a 3-4-3 formation in their massive 5-0 win at home against Lille in Ligue 1. There were not many changes in terms of personnel.
Benjamin Henrichs got his first start after missing out for a while due to injuries and lack of fitness, while Fode Ballo-Touré started as a left-back, replacing Gil Dias. Meanwhile, Benjamin Lecomte retained his spot as the starting goalkeeper while Danijel Subašić was suspended due to the red card he received in the previous match against Lille.
Tiémoué Bakayoko and Aleksandr Golovin once again maintained their spot in the centre of the field while experienced midfielder Cesc Fàbregas was back again in the starting lineup, playing as the ‘8’ alongside Golovin while Bakayoko sat at the bottom of the midfield three.
Monaco retained their three-man frontline of Gelson Martins, Keita Baldé, and Wissam Ben Yedder who all have been very impressive lately.
Starting XI: Lemaitre – Foket, Disasi, Abdelhamid, Kamara – Munetsi, Chavalerin – Cafaro, Dingomé, Donis – Oudin
Bench: Rajković, Costa, Konan, Kutesa, Sissoko, Dia, Doumbia
Guion brought his team into the game with the usual 4-2-3-1 formation. There were not many changes in terms of personnel as well, as most of the players that started against Lyon in the previous fixture, started again in this game.
Only Nicolas Lemaitre and Anastasios Donis that came into the starting lineup, while first-choice goalkeeper Predrag Rajković and Moussa Doumbia were relegated to the bench.
Monaco dangerous in attack but struggling to score
As usual, Monaco started their build-up phase by playing out from the back with the goalkeeper distributing the ball short to the nearby centre-back.
There’s something that seemed a bit different in their build-up. Usually, Monaco would have only two players at the back (when playing with a back four) but have three in front of the backline. The two full-backs usually sit asymmetrically with the ball-near full-back offering support by sitting a bit deeper while the ball-far full-back would sit high and wide to provide width and force the opposing winger to drop deeper.
However, as you can see above, this time both full-backs sit deeper. This way the opposing winger would often get attracted to press the full-back when the ball was played towards them and this would open up space around the half-space and the flank which would be exploited by the ‘8’ and the winger of Monaco. Though in the build-up phase Monaco seemed quite rigid with their shape, once they get into the opposition half, they would be much more flexible.
With four at the back, Monaco ensured numerical superiority which made it quite difficult for Reims to press them.
Monaco played a possession-based football, keeping possession and mainly exchanged short passes most of the time and moved the ball around patiently, waiting for a breakthrough to occur before quickly hitting their opponents were on the back foot.
The two ‘8’s of Monaco were noticeably very active in this game and often seen roaming wide – not just occupying the half-spaces, but also exploiting the flanks.
Above you can see that instead of occupying the half-space, Golovin roamed wide and combined with Martins who now sat in the half-space with the ball. The same thing can also be seen when the ball was on the opposite side of the field.
Above you can see that Fàbregas moved wide just like Golovin did shortly before. This movement helped him lose his marker who’d tend to stay in around the half-space and central areas to prevent a space being created there. If the marker decided to stick close to Fàbregas, the ball-carrier in the half-space would be able to just drive inside with the ball or play the ball towards or onto the path of Martins or Ben Yedder in front of him.
These movements from the two Monaco central midfielders proved to be vital in the attacking phase as this helped them disrupt the defence of Reims, allowing them to break through the flanks numerous times in the game.
Reims were known to be defensively solid and they did manage to prevent Monaco from getting a lot of time and space in dangerous areas although the latter did have a lot of possession inside their half.
Reims mainly defended with a medium-low block but looked to defend deeper in the second half. However, when Monaco started their build-up phase by playing out from the back, they’d maintain a medium-high block while exerting moderately aggressive pressure.
As you can see in the picture above, Reims defended with a 4-2-3-1 block instead of 4-4-2 – which is usually quite common for a team that plays with a 4-2-3-1 system. Reims’ defensive block was vertically compact but maintain decent width.
Reims seemed to defend with ball-oriented pressing and option-oriented zonal marking. Above you can see that Rémi Oudin – who was the first line of pressure for Reims – would press the ball-carrier while blocking his passing lane towards the other centre-back, thus splitting the two and giving the ball-carrier even fewer options and even more pressure.
Despite Reims’ attempts at pressing Monaco in the build-up, the latter were often able to get past the first line of pressure and progress forward into their half. This was due to Monaco players looking much more confident than usual, utilising their individual skills to dribble or take on their direct opponents more often and then drive forward with the ball once they managed to beat their opponents.
Monaco were successful more often than not. Being able to beat their opponents in a 1v1 duel proved to be vital as once the opponent was beaten, Reims’ would often be on their back foot. And with Monaco players actively moving and searching for space, Reims’ defence often had no answer to Monaco’s quick breaks.
Reims, however, did manage to reduce Monaco into getting low xG chances/shots as mentioned in this tactical analysis. This was due to their tendency to swarm the box, allowing no time and space for Monaco players inside the box. Monaco registered only 1.41 xG in this match but proved to be very effective whenever they’re given opportunity inside the box.
Reims unable to exit their own half
Guion’s side looked to play out from the back as well when in the build-up phase but unlike Monaco, they’re much more direct – only needing very few passes to go forward and create chances. They also seemed to use long balls a lot either vertically or diagonally (to switch play). Reims only managed to get 34% of possession, with an average length of possession of 12 seconds which is not far from their average this season (14 seconds).
Above you can see Reims’ shape in the build-up phase. The goalkeeper distributed the ball to the nearby centre-back. The two full-backs of Reims were often asymmetrical with the ball-near full-back offering option and the ball-far pushing high and wide.
Two players were always present in front of the backline, making themselves available as the first pass in the midfield before playing the ball forward towards more advanced areas.
As mentioned before in this tactical analysis, Reims were very direct and vertical-oriented although they did tend to start with a short distribution and play their way out of the first line of pressure from the back.
However, as you can see from the positioning of Reims players, they surely weren’t looking to exchange a lot of short passes. The two wingers were staying high and wide, to stretch out the Monaco defence. Both were, of course, always ready to exploit the space on the flanks whenever the two playmakers (Xavier Chavalerin or Marshall Munetsi) played a long diagonal pass towards them.
As you can see, Oudin also sat quite high and looked to play off the shoulder of the defender, ready to exploit the space behind the defence. In the situation above, Chavalerin played the ball long towards Oudin who managed to break free from his marker and in turn took a shot at goal but the ball hit the post and went out for a goal kick.
Not only in the attacking phase, Reims would also use long balls when in transition.
As you can see above, instead of running closer and offering short options, all the Reims players immediately ran forward whenever they regained possession. The ball-carrier would then proceed to launch a long ball into space, exploiting Monaco’s defenders’ lack of pace by playing balls in behind the defence.
However, in this particular situation, the counter-attack wasn’t successful as Kamil Glik read the situation brilliantly and dashed forward with perfect timing to trap Oudin offside.
Reims seemed to be much more reliant on counter-attacks in the second half.
Oudin’s positioning and movements seemed quite flexible in this match. At times he can be seen staying central and looking to make run in behind the defence, but the other times he would actively roam the advanced areas, occupying the half-spaces or even exploring the flanks. He would also often drop deep to not only support the midfield but also chase opposing players and support the defence.
Monaco setup a 4-1-4-1 block when in the defensive phase. With Reims tending to start out from the back, Monaco would also press quite high. What’s quite interesting in this match was Bakayoko’s tendency in defence.
Above you can see that Golovin looked to press Chavalerin to prevent him from playing a long pass to bypass the midfield. With the Russian midfielder stepping out of his spot, Bakayoko moved forward to cover his zone sometimes making the defensive shape look like a 4-4-2. The former Chelsea and Milan man had the tendency to move forward and join Monaco’s pressure whenever possible rather than staying in his zone and protecting the area between the midfield and defensive line.
Monaco defended with a medium-high block and looked to be moderately aggressive when pressing. They did so to allow the opposing backline to move forward and further from the goal. Once they’ve attracted the backline far enough from the goal, Ben Yedder would start pressing the ball whilst also blocking his lateral passing lane to split the two centre-backs. Meanwhile, Monaco also marked the ball-near options, therefore, forcing the ball-carrier to either launch the ball long or play it backwards.
If the ball was moved backwards, Monaco would swiftly push forward and pile more pressure, forcing the ball-carrier into a mistake by swarming him and blocking the passing lane as well as marking the closest options. You can also notice that there were already eight Monaco players inside Reims’ half, pinning them down deep inside their own half. In this particular situation, Monaco did manage to win the ball inside the penalty area but failed to make good use of it.
However, these situations happened a lot more in the second half, seemingly due to Monaco being much more aggressive and presses more intensively in the second half. This also forced Reims to be much more direct and rely a lot on long balls (usually into the back of Monaco defence) in the second half.
Reims, however, managed to find a way to break through and escape Monaco’s pressure midway through the second half.
As you can see above, Reims now employed a different way to play out from the back. Previously, the two defensive midfielders would sit in front of the backline while the ball-near full-back stayed a bit deeper to offer option out wide. This time one of the two defensive midfielders would drop and sit beside the two centre-backs while both full-backs sat high and wide and there’s only one pivot in front of the three-man backline.
These caused a bit of confusion for Monaco as players seemed to be unsure of who to mark and who to press.
As usual, the striker would still give pressure to the ball-carrying centre-back while blocking his lateral option. However, once the ball was moved to the dropping defensive midfielder, both the striker and the winger (Martins) pressed the ball-carrier whereas originally the winger should be blocking the access towards the full-back. As you can see above, Hassane Kamara was completely free and unmarked on the left flank.
As mentioned before in this tactical analysis, Bakayoko has this tendency of going forward and joining the press whenever possible rather than protecting the area between the midfield and defensive line. If only he stayed deeper, he would have been able to close down and disturb Kamara before something bad happened.
Chavalerin’s pass towards Kamara took everybody out of play and immediately created a 4v4 situation at the back. Kamara combined with Mathieu Cafaro on the flank and the latter then sent a pinpoint cross towards Boulaye Dia who slotted the ball past Lecomte and into the net.
Concluding this tactical analysis, Reims were defensively solid as usual but it was not enough to stop a Monaco side who seemed to have found their self-confidence. They managed to prevent them from creating high-quality chances inside or around the box and it’s perhaps quite fair to say that Moreno’s side were rather “lucky” in this game but it’s also fair to say that Monaco have been pretty effective when given the chance.
Reims could have gotten a better result. They scored a lovely goal from a quick break midway through the second half and could have gotten themselves a lead late in the game were it not for Moussa Doumbia missing his penalty. Reims were even more unlucky to concede a goal at the very end of the game via a corner.
Nevertheless, Moreno’s tactics worked like a charm against Guion’s tactics and they would certainly be pleased with the result.