Huge gifted Sofiane Diop emphasizing his quality
The exceptional performance of Sofiane Diop’s man of the match propelled AS Monaco to their first victory of the season in Ligue 1 against Troyes, in a match where he underlined his immense quality.
With a wonderfully successful brace, the talented Frenchman was a key driving force behind his squad to secure the three points, with his movement, ball magic and understanding with his particularly valuable teammates.
Deployed as Monaco’s left central attacking midfielder in his 3-2-4-1 offensive form, he deftly found room in the half-spaces, between the lines and during the fall in real zones of central midfielder.
Causing frequent problems for his opponents (especially Oualid El Hajjam) due to his skilful movement which left his markers uncertain whether to follow him or to maintain himself, he took full advantage of this indecision. Indeed, on several occasions, he caught his marker by falling deeply to receive freely, which subsequently gave him time and space on the ball to turn and dribble or evaluate his options before choosing a pass. .
It was also remarkable how he strategically dropped in the middle or in larger areas to craft 4v3 or 3v2 overloads to help his team progress more easily in thirds.
An important factor associated with his movement towards the ball was that when he was dragging his man, Wissam Ben Yedder was mindful of the space it created behind, which further amplified the dilemmas for his enemies.
To add further unpredictability, Diop embarked on some clever races behind when the opportunity presented itself, as he demonstrated smart timing to exploit the available gaps. Cleverly gaining the separation using stop-gos, zigzags and his clever acceleration, it was handy for him, which gave him an advantage.
After threatening on several occasions, this aspect of his display finally paid off, being vital to both of his goals. For his first, after noticing that Monaco were recovering the ball, he immediately marauded into the box between defenders to be ideally placed to complete Ben Yedder’s reduction at home.
Then, for his second, his masterfully timed delay was forced by a precise pass from Youssouf Fofana, leaving him in a 1v1 with the goalkeeper, whom he coldly converted.
Technically gifted and remaining calm under pressure, his work with the ball in his feet was also of a high standard. Of course, with his first touch and tight ball control, it was impressive to see him maneuver away from danger with his tight turns and rapid changes of pace and direction.
Showing a clear conscience as he knew whether to protect the ball, spin his man around, shoot his man before finding a free colleague, or drop the ball quickly, he shone in that regard.
Not only was he good in high-pressure and close-quarters instances, but he also engaged in damaging dribbling when he was free. Whether using his tight turn, slick feints, or hard-to-read shoulder drops, he was an elusive man for Troyes to watch.
Meanwhile, in terms of deaths, the creativity and execution of the former Sochaux prodigy allowed him to create a plethora of promising situations for his team. As well as pulling the play together neatly with his back to goal and combining perfectly in reduced spatial sequences, his ability to unblock opponents with jagged bullets was a pleasure to watch.
The two assists shown in the graphics below stood out in particular, however, with Diop’s vision, sweeping and hitting the ball allowing Gelson Martins to get behind to be placed in attractive scoring positions.
In numbers, his three shots, two goals on an XG of 0.81, four assists completed in the last third (at 100%), three dribbles, three progressive runs, two touches inside the box and two chances created. illustrated his threat.
Another impressive statistic that emerged after the game on Monaco’s official website is that Diop’s nine goals since the start of last season make him the second-highest French scorer aged 21 or under in the top five European leagues behind Amine. Gouiri from Nice (15).
Coach Kovac rightly praised Diop after his game-changing work, insisting: “He was very good. I’m very happy with what he did with the ball, especially with regard to the second goal where he ran to the inside, with a fantastic pass from Youssouf with good timing.
“He has to keep playing like this; he can still improve without a ball, but with him he is really on the right track. It’s his first double and I hope there will be more this season.
After signing a contract extension until 2026, he will certainly have a lot more opportunities to improve and enjoy a lot more days like the glorious one against Troyes.
The challenge for the future, as Kovac mentioned, will be to hone his craft and find more consistency so he can really take his game to the next level.
Working under the guidance of the tactically astute Croatian, who plays him in his perfect stance, and the fact that he’s determined to always perfect his art, there’s every reason to suggest that he will do so sooner rather than later.