Gelson Martins vs Idrissa Gueye provides mid-pitch spice in Monaco-PSG
Sportsbet.io previews the enticing battles from the Ligue 1 fixture between AS Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain.
A couple of years ago, a Monaco vs PSG fixture was a hotly anticipated clash in Ligue 1 as Leonardo Jardim's exceptional use of his talented resources pit Monaco to comfortably challenge a cash-rich Paris St.Germain. Come 2019 the matchup is a one-sided affair rather than a headline-grabbing fixture.
Monaco have had a massive fall from grace, currently lying in 14th place in the table with 18 points in 14 games, with a negative goal difference. PSG, on the other hand, lead the table by five points with a game in hand, having scored 30 goals and conceded just eight, the joint-lowest along with Reims.
Monaco come into the game having lost the previous one against Bordeaux while PSG are on a four-game unbeaten run, having drawn the last time out against Real Madrid.
PSG enjoy sheer dominance in the head-to-head record, winning the last eight meetings across all competitions. The Ligue 1 champions start as the odds-on favourite in the latest matchup at the Stade Louis II, considering the 4-0 result on their last visit to Monaco.
With a talented pool of players on either side, here are the key battles to keep an eye out for, tonight:
GUILLERMO MARIPAN vs MAURO ICARDI
Although Maripan has featured just seven times for Monaco this season, the 25-year-old is quickly making a name for himself at the club. The Chilean centre-back has registered a 77% tackle success rate and 18 clearances, an indication that no one can ease past him effortlessly. But then again, Mauro Icardi is no somebody.
The former Inter Milan skipper ended his nightmare in Italy with a loan move to PSG this summer, and has since hit the ground running with six Ligue 1 goals in five games. Icardi has featured on the scoresheet in three of his last four games, thus cementing his place in the team ahead of Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani. The Argentine attacker is well-placed to not only open the scoring against Monaco but also dominate the proceedings around the hosts' defence led by Guillermo Maripan.
GELSON MARTINS vs IDRISSA GUEYE
Martins sealed a permanent move to Monaco in July but has still to prove his worth. The Portuguese winger has one goal in 13 matches while creating 21 chances and 20 key passes in the process. Blessed with tenacious pace, 24-year-old Martins has completed 60% of his dribbles this term and is aiming for a quality duel with Idrissa Gueye.
Although Gueye may not be impressive at this point of the campaign, Thomas Tuchel considers the Senegal midfielder a valuable piece of the puzzle at PSG. The former Everton player has registered 56% successful tackles, four clearances and 16 interceptions in nine games, but what stands out is Gueye's mobility throughout the pitch. While Gelson Martins will fancy cutting in through PSG's full-backs, 30-year-old Gueye will be tasked to pull the plug on the Portuguese winger's agile runs.
WISSAM BEN YEDDER vs THIAGO SILVA
Ben Yedder was another forward who moved to Monaco in the summer transfer window this year, and his return to the French top-tier has been fruitful. The French striker has netted nine times in 11 games, all from inside the box, thus showing what an incredible poacher he is. Ben Yedder is poised to spell trouble for PSG's defenders, and with a shot accuracy of 76%, the former Sevilla attacker will look to frustrate Thiago Silva.
The Brazilian may not be the robust defender he once was, but can still snuff out attacks like a hound. PSG skipper Silva has registered ten successful tackles with a 53% tackle success rate, apart from 33 clearances and 19 interceptions in 11 games this term. Hence, his clash against Wissam Ben Yedder will make a headline statement off the contest.
Words: Rahul Venkat