Excellent performance from Monaco last week away at Evian (won 3-1) when they clearly outplayed the opponent and were superior from all points of view.
Since defenders Raggi and Carvalho are injured and Wallace is suspended coach Jardim had to improvise and converted midfielder Toulalan to a central defender. To be honest there was not much pressure on Monaco’s defense but even so, Toulalan was always on alert and successfully prevented opponents from infiltrating inside the penalty box. Most likely he will continue to play in that position until regular central defenders will be available for action.
Forward Berbatov started only on the bench but Carrasco suffered an injury early in the game (most likely will miss this round) and Berbatov substituted him. His playing appetite is at high levels and we could see many dribbling moves that disorientated opponents. Young forward Martial is also is great form and made the best of his ball control skills.
Bastia started the game against Nice last round very aggressively but got surprised on counters a couple of times. Opponents even took the lead after 20 minutes but the fate of the game was written when referee Fautrel showed Nice a red card just before the half time whistle.
Against an opponent in numerical inferiority Bastia were able to apply constant pressure and take all points (won 2-1). Still, the offensive potential was far from impressive as Bastia relied mainly on long range attempts (mostly coming from play-maker Boudebouz).
Bastia sit exactly in the middle of the table at the moment without having any relegation woes. They look better in this second part of the season but it seems they reduced the rythm a bit in the last two rounds.
The offensive phase looks improved with Danic, Boudebouz and Ayite in midfield but there’s a lot of work to be done before Bastia will be able to easily open up organized opponents.
Most probably guests will miss central defender Squillaci who suffered an injury last week.
Monaco’s confidence is at maximum levels and surely they will want to keep the same rythm before the crucial Champions League encounter with Arsenal next week. Hosts have enough resources to transform this game into a one sided encounter. Monaco -1 at 1.92
UPDATE: Monaco welcome back defender Carvalho but will miss Carrasco, Kondogbia and Toulalan. Bad news for Bastia as they will have to do without play-maker Boudebouz, midfielder Cahuzac and defender Squillaci. Same bet
Monaco: Stekelenburg, Subasic – Abdennour, R.Carvalho, Ab.Diallo, Echiejile, Fabinho, Kurzawa, Al.Touré – Bahamboula, Dirar, Moutinho, Ber.Silva, Al.Traoré – Berbatov, Germain, A.Martial, Matheus
Bastia: Areola, Leca – Cioni, D.Diakité, Peybernes, Modesto, Marange, Palmieri – Djiku, Romaric, Gillet, Danic, Ab.Keita – Sio, Kamano, Houri, Tallo, F.Ayité