Monaco will host Lyon at the Stade Louis II in the first game of the new Ligue 1 season on Friday.
Monaco’s last season was one to remember, even though it was for the wrong reasons. In the four seasons before that, they were consistently in the top three. Led by a young core, they even won the Ligue 1 title in the 2016-17 season. After that season most of that young talent left for bigger clubs. The likes of Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva, Fabinho, Benjamin Mendy were key players then, but they are no longer at the club.
Despite this, Monaco finished second the season after winning the title. Last season is when the ship really capsized. Due to their lowly league position, coach Leonardo Jardim was fired in October. Thierry Henry was appointed as his successor. Henry played five years at Monaco, but his manager pedigree was nowhere near his status as a player. The inexperience showed, and he was shown the door in January. Jardim was appointed as the manager again.
The club’s vice-president Vadim Vasilyev said that sacking him in October was ‘premature’. He managed to keep Monaco safe from relegation, but barely. They finished 17th in the league, just two points clear of the relegation zone. He will hope to do better than that finish this season. Gelson Martins from Atletico Madrid is the only major signing they have managed to pull off thus far. Hopefully, for Monaco fans, it will be not the last.
They will come up against Lyon in their opening fixture. Lyon finished third last season, and they will play in the Champions League courtesy of that finish. However, some major players in their squad will not suit up for them this season. Midfielder Tanguy Ndombele left for Tottenham Hotspur for a hefty fee. He was a crucial player for them last season, and the likes Houssem Aouar and Martin Terrier will have to pick up the slack.
Another key player they lost is Nabil Fekir. The attacking midfielder was their captain, but he left for Real Betis. Fekir was hugely influential for them, and his loss will be felt keenly. Lyon have not signed any replacements in that department so far. They also lost left-back Ferland Mendy to Real Madrid this summer. Youssouf Kone was signed from Lille as a replacement for him.
The head to head record is quite even between these two sides. Lyon and Monaco have both lost twice and won twice in their last four league games. Monaco will need to spruce up their level if they want to contend with the likes of Lyon this season.
Monaco vs Lyon Prediction
Despite the home advantage for Monaco, Lyon are favorites to get the win in the opening game. They were the superior side last season, and the gap won’t be bridged so easily. Both sides should score, and the total goals should be over 2.5 in the game.