Preview: Monaco vs. Sturm Graz
Sports Mole provides an overview of Thursday’s Europa League clash between Monaco and Sturm Graz, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Monaco head in their Europa League mounting with Sturm Graz looking for a change of fortune after a disappointing start to the season.
While Nico KovacSturm Graz’s side failed to qualify for the Champions League group stage, with Sturm Graz taking part in this stage of a European competition for the first time in a decade.
With their third place last season in Ligue 1, Kovac and his Monaco team seemed well placed to ensure a return to the Champions League after a three-year absence.
However, despite having an advantage in their play-off against Shakhtar Donetsk with 16 minutes remaining, Monaco wasted the chance to compete among the elite of European football.
The disappointing brace against the Ukrainian giants came amid a series of alarming results, with Kovac recording a fourth loss in six matches this weekend.
Marseille’s 2-0 victory at the Louis II stadium left Monaco in 16th position in Ligue 1 before the short trip to Nice undefeated this weekend.
While the prospect of this game may influence the selection of Kovac’s squad for this competition, the Croatian is also aware that he cannot afford another setback in Europe.
As far as Sturm Graz is concerned, this game is one of their most notable of the past 10 years, having finally ended their streak of qualifying.
The Austrian team had tried unsuccessfully to make it through the opening stages of European competitions six times before overtaking Slovenian minnows Mura last month.
Graz has won only one league title since 2002, but everything seems to be going in the right direction under Christian Ilzer after their third place in 2020-21.
Despite losing on Matchday 1 to runaway leaders Red Bull Salzburg, Graz has since collected 14 points in their last six league games.
Monegasque form (all competitions):
Sturm Graz Europa League form:
Sturm Graz form (all competitions):
Summer signature Myron Boadu is one of the many Monegasque players who will expect an opportunity on Thursday night.
Strahinja Pavlovic could be drafted into the center of defense, while Kovac could consider resting Aurélien Tchouameni the midfielder who spent the international break with France.
Although he hasn’t made his Ligue 1 or Europe debut this season, Cesc Fabregas hope to feature in this game.
Barring late fitness issues, Ilzer could stick with the Graz XI who started the 2-1 win over SK Austria Klagenfurt.
Ilzer was consistent in using a diamond system, with the chief playmaker Manprit Sarkaria join Kelvin Yeboah on four goals this season.
Jon Gorenc Stankovic, formerly of Huddersfield Town, could potentially replace Ivan Ljubique in the middle of the field.
Possible starting line-up in Monaco:
Nubel; Matsima, Pavlovic, Badiashile, Henrique; Martins, Fofana, Fabregas, Diop; Volland, Boadu
Possible starting line-up from Sturm Graz:
Siebenhandl; Gazibegovic, Affengruber, Wuthrich, Dante; Hierlander, Stankovic, Sarkaria, Kuen; Jantscher, Yeboah
We say: Monaco 3-1 Sturm Graz
Graz will imagine his chances of capitalizing on Monaco’s poor results of late, especially with the increasing pressure on Kovac.
Nonetheless, we still expect the home side to win all three points in a game that should be fun to watch.