Borussia Dortmund still have a narrow chance of topping Group A of the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League as they face bottom-placed AS Monaco.
AS Monaco have had a disastrous Champions League campaign in 2018-19, a huge contrast to last season. The French side have been going through a tumultuous time, domestically and in Europe, with Thierry Henry coming in as the new manager to revive his boyhood club.
Still in the relegation zone, AS Monaco have also seen their Ligue 1 game being postponed over threats of potential trouble, which makes the Champions League fixture even more enticing, with the French side getting some extra rest. Henry and his men might be playing for pride but a win or a good performance here could set the tone for the team going ahead.
Dortmund have started the season with a blitz. Not only are they undefeated in the Bundesliga, sitting atop the league table, but they have also qualified for the knockout phase of the Champions League. The top spot in Group A though, is still up for grabs, with Atletico Madrid just two points ahead of the German outfit.
The form guide backs Dortmund and Lucien Favre would be hoping they can at least continue their streak, regardless of the top spot in Group A. We now take a closer look at the two squads.
Team News & Tactics
Thierry Henry has a list of casualties that might be larger than the number of players available in the first-team. Starting with the man in goal, Danijel Subasic’s injury should mean another start for Diego Benaglio. Djibril Sidibe and Almamy Toure are injured, which makes Benjamin Henrichs an automatic choice for the right side of the back four.
Benoit Badiashile should continue in central defence, with Jemerson likely to come in for Kamil Glik. On the left, we could see Antonio Barreca start, despite Henry preferring the experienced Andrea Raggi thus far.
We should see the manager go for a 4-2-3-1 formation, which has become the modern default of sorts. But, Henry likes the slightly more exploratory 4-1-4-1 formation, which is how AS Monaco could line up on the field. Jean-Eudes Ahoulou is unavailable for Monaco. Youssef Ait Bennasser is likely to retain his place in midfield and should form the base.
If Henry decides to go for creativity and impetus, we could see Youri Tielemans and Aleksandr Golovin in the centre. The two wide spots have very few players to choose from, especially with Rony Lopes and Jordi Mboula out with their respective injury issues.
While Henry has fielded Henrichs in midfield thus far, we could see Golovin being deployed on the right, with Pele coming into the central midfield. Nacer Chadli and Radamel Falcao are guaranteed to start in the remaining spots.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Benaglio; Henrichs, Jemerson, Badiashile, Barreca; Bennasser, Pele; Golovin, Tielemans, Chadli; Falcao
Dan Axel Zagadou and Marcel Schmelzer are the only two players that are struggling to be fit in time to be in contention for the last Champions League group stage fixture for Dortmund for the 2018-19 campaign.
Lucien Favre should retain the back four from Dortmund’s 2-1 win over Schalke, with Lukasz Piszczek, Manuel Akanji, Abdou Diallo and Achraf Hakimi the usual suspects in defence. In fact, there is likely to be just one change to the lineup from the weekend.
Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney will sit at the base of the midfield, with the front three of the midfield to comprise of Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho and Christian Pulisic, who will come into the starting eleven to replace Jacob Bruun Larsen. Dortmund’s attack will be lead by the in-form Paco Alcacer, who has shown no signs of deterring from his blaze so far.
Favre’s tactics focus more on being efficient in attack, with the presence of Thomas Delaney in midfield expected to stifle the opponent’s creative outlets from having freedom going forward. Axel Witsel, on the other hand, is given the nod to go ahead at every opportunity he finds, with the dynamic working brilliantly for Dortmund thus far.
One of the major success stories of the season has been the three attacking midfield positions. The interchangeability that the players possess gives opponents a headache when marking man-to-man and the likes of Reus and Sancho have benefitted from it.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Burki; Piszczek, Akanji, Diallo, Hakimi; Delaney, Witsel; Pulisic, Reus, Sancho; Alcacer
1. AS Monaco and Borussia Dortmund have met each other thrice in the Champions League thus far, with an average of 4 goals per game.
2. AS Monaco have had just seven different goalscorers so far this season, compared to 16 for Dortmund.
3. Marco Reus has contributed towards 14 goals (9G 5A) in 14 Bundesliga games so far.
4. Paco Alcacer is the most potent forward within the top 5 leagues across Europe, scoring 10 goals at an average of 35.9 minutes per goal.
5. Interestingly, despite Dortmund’s league form, their leading goalscorer in the Champions League is Raphael Guerreiro, with 2 goals to his name.
Player to Watch
Tielemans arrived at Monaco as a wonderkid at a time when the French giants were on the rise. While he has impressed and continues to excite, the current Monaco side does not seem to be as compelling a giant within the European scene, mostly due to the player turnover.
Perhaps, the Belgian might now be looking into a move elsewhere, with many clubs on the lookout for creative impetus within their squads. A bright performance against Dortmund could put him on the radar of a lot of clubs in Europe. Big big night for the midfielder.
AS Monaco 2-5 Dortmund
Monaco’s form might be on the up-and-up. But, they are still struggling, mostly because of the spate of injuries to the first-team stars. On Tuesday, it is a case of one of the most proficient attacking lineups against a fragile defence that has one of the poorest records in the Champions League group stage this season, the poorest in Group A.
Dortmund have been miser in conceding this season, mostly due to the presence of an able screen for the back four in the form of Thomas Delaney. But, we should be seeing Dortmund venture forward freely in search of a dominant win to have some chance of topping the group, in case Atletico Madrid slip up.
We expect a goal glut in France, with Dortmund emerging victorious and with a comfortable margin.