In spite scoring only after corners and long distance shots, St Etienne managed to maintain the pressure on 3rd placed Lille (only 1 point behind). They won last round away at Bastia (2-0) but the performance in the field was far from impressive.
Bastia failed to understand that St Etienne relies a lot on corners and set pieces in general, and got punished before half time. They struggled to get back but St Etienne adopted an anti-football strategy, effectively killing the game. In the end, when Bastia where concentrated only on equalizing, St Etienne scored an undeserved 2nd goal (it was a weird own goal in fact).
It is not the first time when St Etienne’s playing style disappoints. In the first part of the season winger Hamouma was maybe the most important player for the offensive phase. Nowadays he is only a bench warmer, and his situation is significant for the form of St Etienne’s attacking players.
The organization is pretty good, but still there is a weak point that can be exploited by opponents. Fullbacks are unreliable, especially newly arrived Tremoulinas who advances a lot (and also misses most of his crosses…).
This is actually where Monaco can make a difference. In spite the young age, Monaco’s fullbacks Kurzawa and Fabinho proved to be very mature and of tremendous help. They are very active and can easily tip the balance, like last round against Reims (Monaco won 3-2), when Fabinho initiated the action on the right flank and Kurzawa ended up scoring the winner.
Both Kurzawa and Fabinho are way more inspired than St Etienne’s flank players, not to mention Rodriguez’s through balls that can destabilize any defense in Ligue1.
It is true that Monaco conceded twice last round and their defense didn’t appeared to be in a good shape, especially central defender Abidal. But both of Reims’ goals came when Monaco had the lead and maybe relaxed too much.
Odds are quite balanced, but I think Monaco have the upper hand here. Monaco DNB at 2.00 can be taken with low to medium stakes.
Saint-Etienne : Ruffier, Moulin – Trémoulinas, Perrin (cap.), Bayal, Clerc, Clément, Lemoine, Tabanou, Cohade, Hamouma, Brandão, Zouma, Brison, Guilavogui, Mollo, Gradel, Erding.
Monaco : Subasic, Romero, Roma – Fabinho, Carvalho, Isimat-Mirin, Kurzawa, Toulalan (cap.), Moutinho, Kondogbia, Rodriguez, Rivière, Germain, Raggi, Obbadi, Dirar, Ocampos, Ferreira Carrasco, Martial, Berbatov.
Key stat: St Etienne have conceded 83% of all home goals in the final 30 minutes of games.
Preview is the writer’s own opinion, all team news and stats are provided by clubgowi.com