Monaco mark their territory as new breed of Ligue 1 giants

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Paris St Germain had long been considered to have a stranglehold on the French league, with their dominance coming to boiling point in Laurent Blanc's final campaign at the helm. Blanc spearheaded a charge to the the French quadruple in a season which defied expectation at the Parc des Princes.

As a consequence, questions of Ligue 1's entertainment value reared their ugly head once more as PSG sauntered towards to the title, finishing 31 points clear of second and not leaving the top of the table after week two of the campaign.

Their 30 league wins last season came close to breaking the record for the least amount of fixtures for a side to win a domestic title, Unai Emery probably licked his lips at the chance of a smooth transition when taking over from Blanc in the driving seat last summer.

His move from Sevilla may have been far less turbulent had Leonardo Jardim's Monaco not broken the streak of Ligue 1 titles PSG were en-route to amassing. Still on their meteoric rise under Claudio Ranieri in the second division as PSG began their four year streak of titles in 2012, Jardim (linked with Arsenal) has helped Monaco produce some of the best football in Europe this season to re-ignite interest in the French top flight.

Judged on the European stage by their demolition of and subsequent collapse against Barcelona, eyebrows were raised when PSG let their French supremacy slip. However, a point haul of 86 with one game remaining would comfortably claim the title in every season from the turn of the century, meaning Monaco must take credit from going one better.

Unbeaten in Ligue 1 in 2017 - only dropping points away in Paris and to Bastia - it's not surprising that they had odds as short as 1/6 to win their final home game of the season against St Etienne. Those odds could have been of further benefit when considering Oddschecker offer various free bet offers to those looking to get maximum value from short-price punts like this one. Monaco have inspired domestically and become short-priced favourites for most fixtures thanks to the young talents of Fabinho, Bernardo Silva and in particular Ligue 1's young player of the season Kylian Mbappe, who have forced themselves into contention for European recognition.
Breaking the 100-goal mark with two games remaining is a mark of the winning formula put into place by Jardim. Radamel Falcao has looked like a man reborn following his two-year English exile from the club, with Thomas Lemar and Silva feeding off his experience to produce 17 league goals between them en route to the title.

A lazy observation would be to point out the effects of PSG losing a world-class star in Ibrahimovic. Edison Cavani has more than stepped up to the plate with 35 goals and the capital-club got some form of revenge when mauling the new champions Monaco 5-0 in the Coupe de France semi-final. The fact is, PSG have just been usurped by an incredible south coast side.

Emery's Men remain unbeaten at home all season, yet it was a 3-1 defeat in Monaco that ultimately cost them the title, as they spiralled into an uncomfortable spell on the road, losing four from eight away games up until the New Year.


Interestingly, this game followed Monaco demonstrating their intent and giving a clue to the season ahead by overcoming Villerreal in a tricky looking Champions League qualifier.
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