Sunday night in Ligue 1 sees 2nd place AS Monaco take on 15th place Nantes, 12 months on from when both sides met as they were chasing promotion to Ligue 1. How the fortunes of both clubs have changed in that time, but it won’t stop Michel Der Zakarian sending out his side with the message that they can take someone from the principality on Sunday evening.
Monaco are not only fighting to keep any slim title hopes alive, but they are also now having to look behind them as third place Lille are only three points behind them going into Sunday’s game.
Here are three players to watch during the 8PM kick-off:
GEOFFREY KONDOGBIA – AS MONACO (Midfield)
Heavily linked with a move to Arsenal last summer, the France Under-20 World Champion struggled with his early season form for his new side but has started to find his feet since the turn of the year and now looks more and more at home in the red and white jersey .
Arsenal have been linked again with making a move, but that was when he was struggling to get into the side, now he is a feature of Claudio Ranieri’s side and it would be surprising to see him leaving so soon.
Kondogbia brings a high level of energy to the Monaco midfield, his bursts from deep in Ranieri’s diamond midfield have been exciting to watch recently, and with every match he is gaining confidence, picking passes and putting his stamp on the team.
The former Sevilla player should be a certainty to start against Nantes, his style and physique will be well matched against the Nantes midfield five, and if Kondogbia can get on the ball often he will have a huge bearing on the match.
BIRAMA TOURE – FC Nantes (Midfield)
One of Nantes most underrated players this season. For all the praise that Lucas Deaux and Jordan Veretout have received, it is the steady and well organised play of Toure that has made it possible.
Excellent on the ball, Toure reads the game very well, what he does is far from spectacular, but it is very effective. There is a great chance that he will come up against Colombian playmaker, James Rodriguez this evening, and if Toure plays well and limits what the former Porto man can create, and then Nantes will have a chance to frustrate the home side.
Toure v James will be an excellent battle this evening; perhaps if the Malian international can get the better of the Colombian, then he might start to get the credit he deserves.
AYMEN ABDENNOUR – AS MONACO (Defence)
Tunisian international, Aymen Abdennour, made the loan move from Toulouse to Monaco this winter, an early injury stopped him from making an instant impact on the Monaco side, but now fit, the burly centre-back is ready to force his way into Ranieri’s starting eleven.
With Ricardo Carvalho and Eric Abidal looking off the pace when they play together, Abdennour adds pace along the back-line and he is the perfect foil for either of the two veteran defenders. He is strong in the air, quick along the ground, and he is an excellent one-on-one defender.
Nantes can struggle if Serbian striker Filip Djordjevic is isolated and frustrated, and it would seem that playing Abdennour against the nine goal striker. Stop Djordjevic and you almost always stop Nantes. That will be the Tunisian’s job this evening.