Ligue 1 2019/20: Monaco vs Lille – tactical analysis
Monaco hosted Lille in matchday 19 of Ligue 1. This was their second meeting in a row after their last meeting several days earlier in Coupe de la Ligue. Their previous match ended with a comfortable 0-3 victory for Lille, but this time Monaco took revenge to a whole new level.
Leonardo Jardim’s side ran out clear winners as Monaco “surprise” Lille with a 5-1 win. This would be a perfect case of “learning from mistakes” as Jardim very clearly took a different approach and utilised a different system in this game. Christophe Galtier, meanwhile, used the exact same approach. In the end, the latter’s tactics were easily neutralised.
We’ll explain more about both team’s tactics in this tactical analysis.
Jardim made some very clear changes coming into this game. Having used a 4-3-3 system last time out against Lille, Les Monégasques played in a 5-4-1 system in this game, which would shift into a 3-4-3 when they’re going forward. This proved to be a very crucial change as this time, they managed to neutralise Lille both in the attacking and defensive phase. Jardim also changed half of the personnel that started in the last game with Benjamin Lecomte, Gil Dias, Jemerson, Kamil Glik, Gelson Martins, and Wissam Ben Yedder starting in this game. Meanwhile, Danijel Subašić, Benoît Badiashile, Fodé Ballo-Touré, Islam Slimani, Cesc Fàbregas, and Jean-Kévin Augustin were relegated to the bench.
Meanwhile, there were not a lot of changes for Galtier’s side both in terms of personnel and the system he used in this game. Galtier deployed his team in the same 4-4-2 system as in their last match with Victor Osimhen and Jonathan Ikoné leading the frontline. Mike Maignan, José Fonte, Zeki Çelik, Jonathan Bamba, and Boubakary Soumaré made the starting 11. Meanwhile, Adama Soumaoro, Léo Jardim, Luiz Araújo were benched. Jérémy Pied and Xeka were not in the squad for this game despite featuring in the last match.
Lille unable to contain Monaco
Monaco’s change of system from 4-3-3 to 5-4-3/3-4-3 was a very smart move from Jardim and Lille’s inability to contain Monaco was a clear reason why the Portuguese manager deserved praise.
Lille defended once again with a medium-high 4-4-2 block that’s compact and narrow.
As usual, Lille’s original ideas of defending were to press high, block access to the middle, and overload flank (once the ball was played there). The key factors in their defence were discipline and quickness when moving block as well as overload and isolation.
The two players in the first line of pressure tended to be ball-oriented when closing down. The two wingers were also tucked in, sitting narrow to tighten the space in the middle but allowed Monaco’s backline to pass to the wing-backs. The two Lille centre-midfielders seemed to not mark the two Monaco centre-mids man for man, but they would immediately press once the ball was played towards either of them.
However, these defensive tactics didn’t go as well as they had planned.
In the tactical analysis of their previous meeting, we mentioned that Monaco tended to have more success in playing from the back when they created a 3v2 situation at the back as in this picture below.
Above you can see that Fàbregas dropped down to provide support. This created a 3v2 situation at the back which made it easier for Monaco to escape Lille’s ball-oriented first line pressure. Renato Sanches, in this situation, decided to close down the Spaniard, leaving Ruben Aguilar free on the right flank. With Domagoj Bradarić having to cover some distance to close down Aguilar, the French right-back had an abundance of space and time to think and make his decision before executing his next action with little pressure.
The exact same thing can be seen above. With Monaco having three at the back, Lille’s ball-oriented first line pressure didn’t successfully work. Again with Sanches pressing the ball, Dias, in this case, was left free. Çelik saw this and quickly closed Dias down, but as the Turkish right-back was quite far from the Monaco wing-back, Dias had enough time to control the ball and move it again comfortably.
The problem with Lille’s press was that they didn’t seem to have a proper plan B in this case. The direction where the presser came from as seen in the picture above meant that the access to the middle could be blocked, however, access to the flank was not. The full-back also tended to not keep a close distance with the opposing wing-back, preferring to keep a flat structure of the backline and only pressed if the ball was played to the wing-back.
The two front-man also usually came straight at the ball-carrying centre-back when closing down rather than from the side where they could have split and forced to move wider and then execute their pressing trap and overload that area. Lille’s first line of pressure could have been more effective with only one player pressing and splitting the backline while Monaco’s midfield options are marked man for man.
In this game, Monaco were much more vertical-oriented and straightforward in attack than in their last game, requiring fewer passes every time they attempted to create a chance (pass per chance creation). They moved the ball very quickly and switched play (to avoid overload) swiftly too, rendering Lille struggling to keep up with their tempo.
As you can see above, Monaco were very much focused on progressing and creating through the flanks. The two centre-midfielders of Aleksandr Golovin and Tiémoué Bakayoko tended to sit in the half-space, near the two wide players (wing-backs and wingers) to create a triangular shape.
The three centre-backs rarely played the ball through the middle, knowing it would be a very difficult route to play through due to Lille’s compact and narrow defence. Instead, they moved the ball laterally a lot, switching play from side to side quickly, and the right or left-sided centre-back tended to play the ball to the nearest wing-back.
Just like Lille, Monaco relied mainly (but not solely) on quick breaks in this game, exploiting Lille’s rather high defensive line and making great use of their blistering pace up front. Four out of five of their goals were created from quick breaks, either from winning the ball back in around the middle third or from a quick switch of play that disrupted Galtier’s side’s defensive structure.
Lille dominated possession but lost the battle
Unlike in the last game, where Monaco had 65% of possession against Lille’s 35% – in this match, Monaco had only 45% of possession while Lille had 55%. Funnily enough, this time, Lille were the one that lost the game.
As mentioned before in this tactical analysis, Monaco would shift into a 3-4-3 shape in attacking phase but would revert to a 5-4-1 shape when in the defensive phase. With five defenders at the back, Monaco would be able to protect width while the four players in the second line stayed narrow and compact to ensure that central areas would be difficult to exploit. Ben Yedder meanwhile usually stayed rather advanced, sitting in between Lille’s backline and midfield line, mainly to act as the counter target in case the ball was won. He occasionally could also be seen coming from behind to catch Lille’s playmakers by surprise, forcing them into a mistake.
Above we can see that Lille played with a double pivot (blue circles) in Benjamin André and Soumaré. The full-backs (red circles) tended to sit wide, occupying free space on the flanks and trying to stretch the Monaco defence.
As you can see, playing through the middle could be very risky as the two Monaco centre-midfielders tended to be man-oriented when marking. However, playing through the flanks posed some risks too. The Monaco wing-back and winger in the picture above as you can see, were ready to close down the Lille full-back once the ball was played to him. Golovin was also already aware of Sanches’ presence and ready to mark him out of the play.
In the real situation though, André did play an impressive through pass between the lines into the feet of Ikoné.
The attacking midfielder then continued the ball through into space in front of Osimhen who’s free and in a one-on-one situation against the goalkeeper. The talented Nigerian then finished the chance with a sweet chip.
However, after this early breakthrough by Lille, Monaco seemed to be extra careful and extra disciplined in their defence, not allowing passes into pockets of space anymore throughout the game.
With Monaco potentially overloading the flanks and the central spaces difficult to access, Lille were often struggling to progress, reducing them to play a lot of lateral passes while Monaco would exert little pressure on them.
As the thin lines suggest, the two playmakers were not able to deliver a lot of passes into pockets of space where Lille were usually most dangerous.
Above, you can see that Lille tended to form a 3-2-5 shape in attack. The full-backs tended to be asymmetrical in the build-up as one of them would stay deep (red circle) while the other one would sit high and wide (orange circle).
The two Lille wingers would sit in the half-space and operate in between the second and third line. The right and left-sided centre-back tended to keep a fairly close distance to these wingers to anticipate a pass between the lines. If the ball was played to either player in the pocket of space, the closes centre-back would quickly give pressure. The ball-side winger and central midfielder would also close the player down to swarm him whilst blocking his passing options.
This proved to be a key part of Monaco’s defensive tactics as this prevented Lille to progress and create chances in the final third while they could potentially win the ball in the middle third and quickly hit Lille on the break.
As you can also see above, Monaco pressed using only one man upfront. Usually, if Fonte (centre) had the ball, Ben Yedder would run straight at him. With the two playmakers being marked man for man, of course, he had to either pass the ball back, sideways or launch it upfront. Or he could also try to dribble past Ben Yedder but it could be extremely risky.
If the ball’s passed laterally, for example, to Gabriel. Ben Yedder would continue closing down but would come from his side, exerting pressure while blocking his lateral options. Martins would also close Gabriel down while Aguilar would mark Bradarić. This would put the ball-carrier isolated and under pressure, forcing him to launch the ball forward or make a mistake – either way, Monaco could potentially regain possession again and quickly hit them on the break with their smart and effective defending.
In the end, Lille’s proneness to losing the ball in the middle third and Monaco’s rapid and clinical counter-attacks proved to be the key factors in the hosts’ victory on Sunday night.
While not making a very drastic change, Monaco fixed their main problems in this game. They dealt with Lille’s high press and defended comfortably against Lille’s build-up play and attacks.
Galtier strangely didn’t seem to make a lot of tactical changes aside from some changes of personnel in this game, perhaps thinking he could take Monaco down again for the second time in a row using the same tactics. Turns out, his side was demolished.
What a smart game management by Jardim. Clearly showing that he and his coaching team had studied Lille and learnt from their mistakes.
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