The international break was like a breath of fresh air for Monaco who had a hectic schedule as of late.
In-spite the busy period and the difficult encounters Monaco performed surprisingly well and even managed to advance in the table (currently sit on the 4th position) and also progressed further in Champions League.
Nowadays they concentrate mostly on building up play down the wings where fullbacks Fabinho and Kurzawa often advance and engage in fast paced actions with midfielders Carrasco and Silva.
Even if experienced forward Berbatov is out injured Monaco are still very dangerous upfront thanks to the altruistic attitude of young Martial who serves excellent balls for the teammates coming from behind.
Monaco will welcome back central defender Wallace after suspension and he will take Carvalho’s place in the lineup (got injured while on international duty).
St Etienne have also been performing at high standards recently and are sitting on three consecutive victories. In-spite of the good confidence levels St Etienne have struggled a bit last round against Lille when they could only win after opponents got a red card (finished 2-0).
Unfortunately for St Etienne things will change this round when the offensive strength will be dramatically reduced.
They usually have problems in the offensive phase as they can’t rely on the lone striker for making the difference. In these conditions offensive midfielders step up and assume responsibility.
Lately Gradel and Hamouma have been St Etienne’s most important players with 4 goals (Gradel) and 4 assists (Hamouma) in the last 3 rounds. Needless to say the attacking potential will drop significantly in their absence. Unfortunately this is exactly what will happen this round when both Gradel (suspended) and Hamouma (injured) will miss.
Strikers Erding and van Wolfswinkel will be forced to get more involved than usual and that should be worrying as both of them usually disappoint.
Guests will also miss central midfielder Clement (suspended) who often takes part in the defensive phase.
With diminished attacking strength St Etienne will need to make extra efforts to open up an organized and in-form side like Monaco. Hosts should be able to take advantage of St Etienne’s absences and continue the good run. Monaco -0.5 at 1.98
UPDATE: Monaco welcome back keeper Subasic, striker Berbatov and defender Raggi after injuries.
Monaco: Stekelenburg, Subasic – Abdennour, Echiejile, Fabinho, Kurzawa, Raggi, Al.Touré, Wallace – Ferreira-Carrasco, Dirar, Kondogbia, Moutinho, Ber.Silva, Toulalan – Berbatov, Germain, Martial, Matheus
St Etienne: Ruffier, Moulin – Theophile-Catherine, L.Perrin, Clerc, Tabanou, Baysse, Brison – Corgnet, Nguemo, Lemoine, Diomande, Mollo – Erding, Van Wolfswinkel, Monnet-Paquet, Saint-Maximin, J.Bamba