Monaco - St Etienne - Friday 19.30
Everybody had almost forgotten about them but Monaco have managed to get back into the title race in an incredible manner.
Leonardo Jardim’s team is currently in 4th place in the table, six points behind PSG but they have a game in hand, at home against Montpellier on April 7th. So if they beat St Etienne on Friday evening, they will come back just three points behind the leaders. It is a wonderful comeback from Monaco, based mostly on a very strong defence. But since they knocked out Arsenal in the Champions League last 16 last month, we are seeing a different Monaco.
Their qualification has given them a massive boost of confidence. They are playing in a much more positive way. They have their ambitions back as well. They can still win the league this season and they have much less pressure than PSG, Lyon or Marseille. They have nothing to lose and they are on a roll. They have some momentum going into this game: in terms of results, in terms of confidence and in terms of personnel.
Apart from Ricardo Carlvaho who is out injured, everybody else is available. Wallace is back from suspension, Raggi from injury. Moutinho is shining, Martial is the star of the moment with 5 goals in his last 6 games, Berbatov is still very precious and Carrasco is their best player overall this season. They have scored three goals in each of their last three league games. It is a very important game for them but it is a tricky one. Paradoxically, their home form this season has been very average. They are only 9th in the home table after dropping points against Reims, Caen, PSG or Lyon. If they want to finish the season on a high, they need to be ruthless at home.
They are facing a St Etienne side only one rank behind them in the table in 5th place and who has the second best away record in the league! Les Verts have not lost in their last six league games now, after a tough start to 2015.
They are solid again and efficient up front. However, they are without their two best players in Hamouma (the club’s best at assists this season) who is injured and Gradel (the club’s top scorer) who is suspended. Clément is also suspended while Sall and Pogba are still out too.
Galtier will not change his 4-3-3 formation though and will try to catch Monaco on the break. However, the visitors have another massive game coming up on Wednesday in Paris in the French Cup semi finals. The players’ mind might be already more focused on the clash with PSG than the one vs Monaco on Friday. So I think Monaco will win on Friday to get back even more in the title race.
The odds are in favour of Monaco with a home win at 1.85. A draw is at 3.20 and a St Etienne away win is at 4.75.
Dimitar Berbatov is favourite to score first at 5.25. My best tip is Monaco to win without conceding a goal at 2.55
Score prediction: Monaco 2 St Etienne 0 at 7.50