AS Monaco have been one of the big success stories of the last few years of French football. Sure, they haven't won a Division 1 title since 2000, but the Red and Whites have done some extremely impressive rebuilding in recent years. In the 2010 2011 season, AS Monaco finished 18th and were relegated to Ligue 2. They spent two seasons in the second tier, and even though they soared to a first-place finish and promotion in 2013, no one was quite sure how the Red and Whites would fair. Pretty well, it turned out. So as AS Monaco stumble in 2015 we assess why?
Monaco's Recent Seasons
In 2013 2014, their first season back in the Ligue 1, AS Monaco won 23 games, drew 11, and lost onlyfour. That record was good enough to put the Red and Whites in second place, behind Paris Saint Germain, and represented a night and day comparison with the soccer club's previous season in Division 1. In 2010 2011, Monaco had won less than half as many games (nine) and lost three times as many (12). Suddenly, fans weren't just hoping to avoid relegation; they were hoping to challenge PSG for the title spot.
Monaco fell back to third place in 2014 2015, with the Parisians holding on to the top spot and Lyon pushing into second. Still, the Red and Whites managed 20 wins and earned entry into the qualifying rounds of the Champions League-though they were subsequently eliminated in the playoffs.
A Slow Start
Unfortunately, that playoff elimination from the Champions League seems to have set the tone for the first part of Monaco's 2015 2016 season. While not terrible, the first 13 weeks of Ligue 1 competition have been a slow start for the Red and Whites, and we have seen a stumble in their previously strong performances.
The football club looked poised to continue their recent trend of top-quality performances in their opening match, an away game against Nice that they won 2-1. But two back-to-back draws (with Lille and Toulouse) and a rough 0-3 loss against PSG set Monaco back and dropped the soccer club to 13th place in the Ligue 1.
Things have improved somewhat since then. The Red and Whites have picked up four additional wins since their week four low though the teams they've beaten (Ajaccio, Montpellier, Reims, and Angers) are mostly not the top clubs in the division. Angers, who Monaco beat 1-0 on November 1st, are the best team that the Red and Whites have won a game against this season, currently enjoying a fourth-place ranking after 13 weeks of play.
A Familiar Season Arc
The good news for fans in the AS Monaco shirt 2015/16 is that their football club isn't in any serious trouble-at least not yet. The Red and Whites have only lost three games and are just five points back from Lyon, who currently occupy the runner-up slot. PSG are 10 points ahead of the entire field, but with Monaco forcing draws or snagging wins in most of their games, the soccer squad could still have a chance at a top-five slot.
AS Monaco's slow start to the 2015 2016 season is also not terribly alarming, given the club's similar narrative arc a year ago. Indeed, the Red and Whites had a dreadful kickoff to the 2014 2015 campaign, losing three of their first five games. Indeed, early on, it looks as if the football club might face relegation again, after one bright season near the top of the Ligue 1.
By week 13, Monaco had recovered somewhat from their early struggles, but still weren't doing great. They'd won five matches, drawn four, and lost four, good for an eighth place position. Right now, Monaco are in ninth, which means they are technically behind the mark from where they were a year ago at the same time. With that said, the Red and Whites this season have won five games, drawn five games, and lost the last three, which means they actually have a better point total right now (20) than they did after 13 games in 2014 2015 (19).
Last season, Monaco played much better football throughout the back half of the season than during the first half. If they can do the same thing again, then a top-three finish is still on the table.
The only wrinkle is that, without Anthony Martial (who led the club with 13 goals last season), the Red and Whites don't have a star scorer. Their best offensive player this season, Thomas Lemar, has only netted three goals in the league so far. Monaco Leonardo Jardim will need to figure out how to work around that shortcoming to save his soccer squad from their current streak of middling performances.
Do you think the Red and Whites can turn things around, or is the lack of Anthony Martial to club's Achilles' heel? Pick up an AS Monaco shirt 2015/16 from Soccer Box, and then find us on social media to share your predictions! We are active on multiple social networks including Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.