After winning their first two games against Tottenham and Leverkusen, Frédéric Barilaro’s men then fell foul of CSKA Moscow (losing 4-1 and 0-5), before seeing off Spurs (2-1) in the reverse fixture on matchday 5, despite being reduced to ten men. That hard-fought win left AS Monaco second in the group, ahead of Wednesday’s final crucial trip to Leverkusen.
CSKA Moscow are guaranteed to top Group E and will definitely be in the last 16, leaving AS Monaco and Bayer to battle it out for second place. Both teams will be aiming to secure a spot in the play-offs, a kind of last 32 round which will see the eight second-placed sides from the “UEFA Champions League path” group phase take on the last eight qualifiers from the “Domestic Champions path”. The draw will take place on Monday 12 December.
With a three point advantage over Bayer, AS Monaco will have one foot in the play-offs when they kick off this crucial game. A draw will be enough to see them seal second spot ahead of the German outfit, and they could even go through with a defeat, after their 2-1 win in the reverse fixture. But it is vital they do not lose by more than one goal, with at least one or two goals for the Red & Whites, to retain a better direct goal average.
In 2014, our U19s’ dreams of qualification were snuffed out at Leverkusen. Two years on, at the same venue, they now have the chance to put that disappointment behind them, especially as some players – including Muyumba, Mbae and Cardona – were involved in that first outing for Monaco in the UEFA Youth League. Wednesday’s match will be streamed live on UEFA’s official website. Should they qualify, AS Monaco’s eight potential opponents in the play-offs are Midtjylland (Denmark) Rosenborg (Norway) Viitorul (Croatia) AS Roma (Italy) RB Salzburg (Austria) Maccabi Haifa (Israel) Altinordu (Turkey) Ajax Amsterdam (Netherlands).
The play-off matches will be played on 7 and 8 February 2017, in a single knock-out round. Clubs from the Domestic Champions route will have home advantage.