Arguably the pick of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) qualifying third round sees eight-time French champions Monaco welcome recent Johan Cruijff Schaal winners PSV to the Stade Louis II. Monaco manager Philippe Clement oversaw a thrilling end to 2021/22 with a 11-game unbeaten run (W9, D2), but that came before a summer of considerable change in terms of playing personnel.
Not since 2005 have Monaco been knocked out of the UCL in the third qualifying round, and they have won all three of their home legs at this stage since by a commanding 10-2 aggregate scoreline. Inspiring further confidence of a positive start is Monaco’s strong record against Dutch opponents (W6, D4, L2), although both defeats were against none other than PSV!
Legendary Dutchman and new PSV boss Ruud van Nistelrooy made a dream start to his senior management career with a stunning 5-3 Super Cup win over Ajax last time out, sending a clear message of intent to all challengers. He’s been part of the club’s infrastructure since 2016, starting as the U17 manager before working his way up to the top job, so his invaluable knowledge of the club could be the required recipe for success.
The Eindhoven outfit travel here unbeaten in eight of their last ten UCL qualifiers (W7, D1), though their most recent away trip saw them eliminated by Benfica (2-1). As for PSV’s record against French opponents they have often held their own (W9, D14, L11). That includes six H2Hs against Monaco (W2, D2, L2), where all but one game saw one side lead 1-0 at the interval.
Players to watch: Monaco’s Kevin Volland scored three goals in Europe last season, with his first being the final goal in a 2-0 win during the UCL third qualifying round. PSV’s hat-trick hero from their season opener, Guus Til, scored six goals during European qualifying with former club Feyenoord last season, two of which were decisive.
Hot stat: Referee Davide Massa averages 4.83 bookings per UCL qualifier, but is yet to show a red card!
Best Pick: Yellow Cards – Over 2.5 @ 1.31