Monaco set to complete a remarkable season as Mbappe & Falcao shine

The great day has finally arrived. The podium is set. The bottles of champagne are in the fridge. The "Hexagoal," the Ligue 1 trophy, is there, polished, shiny and ready to be handed out. After an incredible season, without a doubt the best in the club's history, Monaco should be crowned French champions on Wednesday after their game in hand at home against Saint-Etienne.

Monaco just need a point against les Verts to be officially crowned the Kings of France but their goal difference is so much better than Paris Saint-Germain, who are three points behind them (+73 compared to +56), that only two defeats by Monaco combined with a 15-0 win for PSG against Caen could see them losing the title.
That's not going to happen. It should not happen, anyway, because Monaco deserve to win the league far more than PSG. Miracles like that don't happen in football... unless you are Barcelona against PSG, of course.
And so, it's time though to reflect on Monaco's incredible achievement. They can finish the season with 95 points, just one behind the French league record of 96 set by PSG last season. The Monegasques have already scored 102 goals in Ligue 1, equalling PSG's record. They have two more games (Saint-Etienne and then away at Rennes on Sunday for the last game of the season) to do better than Zlatan Ibrahimovic & Co. did last season.
Because they have been scoring 2.83 goals per game this campaign, it seems certain Monaco will beat the record. It has been a near-perfect season: best attack (102), second-best defence (29 goals conceded compared to PSG's 26), the most wins (28), the fewest defeats (three), second-lowest number of draws (five to Lyon's three), more home wins (16), second-most away wins (12 to PSG's 14) and even the best team in first-halves (73 points taken) and in second-halves (80 points taken). And they've done it while out in front for much of the season.
First, they chased Nice when their neighbours were top. Then they went top, being hunted by PSG and Nice but resisting their chase despite a congested fixture list including Champions League football. For example, Wednesday's game against Saint-Etienne will be their 62nd of the season but unlike a certain manager on the red side of Manchester, you rarely heard them complaining about playing so much.
They don't have PSG's squad depth but the clever rotation system adopted by Leonardo Jardim meant that they managed to compete and do well in all the competitions they entered at the start of the season: they'll be French champions but also reached the League Cup final, French Cup semifinal and Champions League semifinal.
There is only one thing Monaco are bottom of this season and there's no surprise here: it's the attendance table. With an average of 9,324 fans per game at home, they're behind even Dijon, Bastia or Lorient, making them the least supported French Champions ever! But they won't care. What they care about is that they are the most entertaining French Champions ever.
Watching Monaco play has been a pure joy all season. Jardim deserves a lot of credit for it, of course, on so many levels. First, for simply building this team over the past three years. A lot of top players have left (Yannick Carrasco, Anthony Martial and James Rodriguez just to name three) but a lot have arrived to replace them and Jardim got the players he wanted and needed. Then he installed an attacking philosophy with full-backs pushed really high up the pitch, two strikers up front and a pair of creative players on the flanks.
There's also the significant resurrection of Radamel Falcao's career. The Colombia international came back to Monaco in the summer following two disastrous loan spells at Manchester United and Chelsea. He was a broken man but Jardim and his staff made him a great striker again. He has 21 league goals in 28 league matches (21 starts), plus seven in 10 matches in the Champions League including an absolute beauty at Manchester City. Falcao was given the captain and has embraced the role, being praised by everybody at the club for being a great captain all season. At 31, he is finally happy again.
Credit is also due to the maestro, Bernardo Silva. Blessed with a wonderful left foot combined with high intelligence, whoever signs him from Monaco whether this summer or next will be a very lucky club. Again, Jardim's role in his development is huge given the way he helped him building his confidence and guided him. The turning point in Monaco's season came from Silva: it was his last-minute goal at the Parc des Princes against PSG at the end of January in Week 22 that snatched a dramatic 1-1 draw. With a win, Paris would have gone level with Monaco at the top but Bernardo's goal meant that l'ASM stayed three points clear.
Finally, there is Kylian Mbappe. I think all the words and superlatives have been used to describe him and his incredible talent. He's simply from another planet. He turned 18 in December and since then, he seemingly broke the internet every time he played. In case you haven't seen it, you should just check his assist for Bernardo Silva last Sunday against Lille: he absolutely humiliated Franck Beria. Goals, assists, pace, skills, tricks, physique and maturity: he has everything. And he owes a lot to Jardim for the way the manager eased him into the first team, protected him and backed him all the way.
Jardim, Falcao, Silva and Mbappe were the key quartet in Monaco's season but they benefited from all the wonderful work of Thomas Lemar, Djibril Sidibé, Benjamin Mendy, Fabinho, Kamil Glik and Tiemoue Bakayoko. This is Monaco's golden generation. Seventeen years after the club's last French title in 2000 with Fabien Barthez, David Trezeguet and Marcelo Gallardo, this group has brought Monaco back to the top.
Source: All Football

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