Both side played exhausting midweek games against top opponents. St Etienne were held to a 1-1 draw on home ground by Inter Milano while Monaco were defeated away at Benfica (1-0).
St Etienne still lack efficiency in the offensive department. Striker Erdinc returned from injury a couple of rounds ago and he’s got a guaranteed place in the lineup regardless the poor performances.
Lately St Etienne rely only forward Gradel for making the difference upfront as he’s got good speed and is able to take opponents by surprise.
Hosts compensate the lack of an efficient striker with a powerful and talented midfield. Fullbacks also advance a lot and take part in the offensive phase often creating numerical superiority.
At the back St Etienne are pretty solid and even keeper Ruffier is in top form nowadays after saving a penalty last round against Lille (finished 1-1).
Monaco have something in common with St Etienne as their offensive strength is also questionable to say the least. Striker Berbatov is still out injured so nobody should expect any improvements. On the contrary, things may get even worst seeing that winger Carrasco suffered an injury last round and will sit out. Carrasco was very active lately and his absence will surely be felt.
Just like St Etienne, Monaco also use 2 central midfielders who always respond present when it comes to providing support the defense. In these conditions opening up Monaco is not that easy, especially when there is no in-form striker in the squad…
Spectators should not expect much from this game regardless the names involved. With solid defensive players and toothless offenses this is going to be first of all a game of waiting. St Etienne’s midfield seems more powerful, but even so, players will have to outdo themselves against an opponent like Monaco.
UPDATE: No surprises in the squads
St Etienne: Ruffier, J.Moulin – Baysse, Brison, Perrin, F.Pogba, Bayal, Tabanou, Théophile-Catherine – Diomandé, Lemoine, Clément – Erding, Gradel, Hamouma, Mollo, Monnet-Paquet, Van Wolfswinke
Monaco: Stekelenburg, Subasic, Sy – Abdennour, R.Carvalho, Echiejile, Fabinho, Kurzawa, Raggi, Wallace – Bakayoko, Dirar, Kondogbia, Moutinho, Ocampos, Ber.Silva, Toulalan – Germain, A.Martial, L.Traoré