AS Monaco are through to the semi-finals of the Champions League after brushing aside Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund.
Eight days after their Champions League quarter-final first leg against Monaco was postponed following an attack on their team bus, Borussia Dortmund’s focus was again affected ahead of the return leg on Wednesday.
True to the Italian tradition of defending an advantage, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon had little work to do until late in the game, as Massimiliano Allegri’s side expertly absorbed Barcelona’s high-paced passing attack that ultimately produced few good scoring opportunities.
Monaco were happy to settle for a much smaller portion of possession and operate on the counter on a night where Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel was forced to react after seemingly getting his tactics wrong.
Three quick thoughts from Monaco’s 3-1 Champions League win over Borussia Dortmund at the Stade Louis II on Wednesday.
Prior to Wednesday’s game, Dortmund’s bus was held up by police at the team hotel and kickoff was briefly delayed.
With nine minutes left Monaco substitute Valere Germain, who had only just come on for Mbappe, swept the ball in at the far post following a run down the left by Lemar.
Benjamin Mendy’s long-range effort had plenty of swerve but was poorly parried by Burki and Mbappe was typically quick to coolly slot home the rebound. Then we made too many mistakes in our passing and positioning.
It would also be a first appearance in the last four for a French club since Lyon in 2010, but they are showing signs of fatigue having started their campaign in the third qualifying round in July.
Tuchel included Sven Bender, who was taken off injured against Eintracht, and Marco Reus, who scored on his comeback from a six-week injury break on Saturday, in his squad.
Monaco has come a long way since July 27 a year ago – when it started in the qualifying rounds with a trip to Istanbul.
“Though Dortmund have slipped behind Bayern domestically this season, there is patience with Tuchel as he is clearly rejuvenating the team in the very literal sense of the word”, says German football journalist and commentator Ian Holyman.
Monaco doubled their lead in the 17th minute as Thomas Lemar picked out Radamel Falcao, who headed into the bottom corner from close range.
“I wasn’t thinking about it anymore once the game started, but I don’t know if the players were, you would have to ask them that”, he said through a translator at the post-match news conference.
“Our mindset must be the same as the first leg”.
Leonardo Jardim’s young Monaco side have swept aside all before them in the Champions League this season, entertaining as they go with a brand of fearless, attacking football that the Portuguese boss said before the tie is part of their “DNA”.