AS Monaco's Maghnes Akliouche and Stade Brestois' Hugo Magnetti battle for the ball

In-form Monaco, Brest face off in top three clash

In-form Monaco, Brest face off in top three clash

Publish on 04/21 at 00:30 - E. DEVIN


Despite some notable absences, AS Monaco will retain hopes of maintaining their unbeaten run as they head north to take on Stade Brestois.

While Sunday night's clash between Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique Lyonnais may have nominal top billing on the Ligue 1 Uber Eats calendar, there's no avoiding the fact that AS Monaco's trip to Stade Brestois has the biggest implications in the battle for the league's UEFA Champions League places. The Monégasques enter the match on a six-game unbeaten run dating to a last-minute win against Racing Club de Lens in late February.

This run has allowed the Principality side to edge closer towards clinching a place in the top three, the club's stated aim ahead of the season. Indeed, at kickoff, they are three points ahead of LOSC Lille, their nearest pursuers (whom they will face on Wednesday), and can overtake Brest, who have been in second place for several weeks, as they trail the Breton side by just one point.



To do this, though, the visitors will have to manage several key absences. Defender Thilo Kehrer, a key piece since joining on loan in January, will miss out through suspension, but more pressing are the absences of Ismaïl Jakobs and Aleksandr Golovin. The Senegalese left back has risen in prominence with Caio Henrique out for the season, but the versatile Golovin has arguably been Monaco's player of the season, showing his prodigious talent and versatility with aplomb.

Even with that being the case, manager Adi Hütter remains confident of his side's abilities -- his development of youngsters Maghnes Akliouche and Eliesse Ben Seghir -- both are expected to start -- has been key in managing absences. Akliouche has scored seven goals this season -- only Wissam Ben Yedder has more, and his inventiveness will be crucial if the Monegasques are to continue their strong run of form.


For their part, Brest will miss Pierre Lees-Melou, the reigning Ligue 1 Player of the Month after his sending-off against Olympique Lyonnais last weekend. They will also have to make do without Lilian Brassier, as the young defender is struggling with a calf injury. To replace Brassier, Éric Roy is likely to call on the versatile Julien Le Cardinal in defence, while veteran Jonas Martin and Mahdi Camara are among his options in central midfield.

Along with their absences, the hosts will also have to shake off their frustration of having lost their last match against Lyon, a game they led 3-1 at one point. Roy is confident, though, that his side have put that disappointment behind them, averring in a pre-match press conference: "I don't think we ended the match badly physically, but in our management of the game. This sort of thing can be emotional and it is obvious that we went missing in the last two 20 minutes of match, but we have discussed it together."

If that is indeed the case, we should expect a top-quality duel between two of the league's form teams at the Stade Francis-Le Blé, a fine illustration of the league's depth in quality.

Predicted lineups:

Stade Brestois (4-2-3-1): Bizot; Lala, Chardonnet, Le Cardinal, Locko; Magnetti, Martin (or Camara); Del Castillo, Doumbia, Satriano (or Le Douaron); Mounié

AS Monaco (4-2-3-1): Majecki; Vanderson, Singo, Salisu (or Maripán), Ouattara; Fofana, Zakaria; Akliouche, Minaimino, Ben Seghir; Ben Yedder


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