Monaco's youth in the spotlight against Strasbourg
Come the final whistle, they were four of the nine AS Monaco players still on the pitch representing AS Monaco’s Academy. Benoît Badiashile, Giulian Biancone, Chrislain Matsima and Eliot Matazo have indeed been called upon by Niko Kovac, to hold the result and get three points against Strasbourg this Sunday at the Stade Louis-II in what became a 3-2 win. It was strong management from the Red & Whites’ coach, who certainly did not expect his team to end the game nine to eleven.
An average age of 19 among the four substitutes
Even Enzo Millot, present on the bench, was ready to come on, even if his more attacking profile and the circumstances of the match meant that the AS Monaco coaching staff had to quickly review their plans. Still, the Red & Whites’ average age at the final whistle was just over 22 (22.4), including an average of 19 for the four players who came on. It was sign of confidence sent by Niko Kovac and the club towards the young people from the club’s Academy, to show that they can have their chance in the first team. Moreover, the Monegasque coach has started an average of eight French players since the start of the season in Ligue 1, as our partner Stats perform/Opta reminds us.
8 – Monaco aligne en moyenne 8 joueurs français 🇫🇷 titulaires par match de Ligue 1 2020/21, son plus haut total sur une même saison depuis la mise en place de l’arrêt Bosman en 1996/97. Relocalisation. pic.twitter.com/QEsWiQuZuo
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) September 28, 2020
Benoît Badiashile plays his 51st match for AS Monaco
It was thus a good sign, especially since once again the facts of the match did not allow Chrislain Matsima and Eliot Matazo to make their debuts free from pressure when celebrating their first appearances in Ligue 1 in their young careers. Somehow, they adapted to the circumstances and delivered a performance full of courage and determination, with the desire to show that the coach can count on them, whatever the situation.
The day after this great victory, the third of the league season for AS Monaco, the four “Munegu babies” were still very happy. Even Benoît Badiashile, who was already playing in his 51st game in the colors of his formative club and Giulian Biancone, who was loaned last season to Cercle Bruges (25 matches, 1 goal).
Here are the reactions from these youngsters, who we caught up with at the La Turbie training center.
Eliot Matazo :
“It is a great pride, an honor to make my debut with AS Monaco, my training club. It is something that I have been waiting for since I was little. It was a special moment that I savored. While it is true that it was not the best conditions to make my debut (Monaco were only leading 3-2 in the 70th to minute, playing with nine against eleven). But as soon as I set foot on the pitch there was a good state of mind in the team which encouraged me, and that made it easier for me because I put myself directly into the fray. At the end we were nine against eleven and it was necessary to consider the situation, to directly to adapt to the situation and to cope with it. There will be many situations to manage like this in our career so frankly it was not the worst thing. It is another aspect of the game that we have learned about. It’s rare and it was not easy but I think that we did well and that we can be proud of ourselves. From the moment the coach sent me to warm up I had butterflies in my stomach, but once you set foot on the pitch, you have to get straight into it. The coach trusts the young players, we worked very hard during preseason and that’s why we were ready to respond in this game.”
Chrislain Matsima :
“It was a great pleasure for me to make my debut with AS Monaco in front of our home crowd. It’s true that it was a fairly difficult game but despite that the coach knew how to trust us young players. I was able to respond on the pitch and frankly it’s with a feeling of happiness that I look at the match. I knew it was going to be a difficult task when I came on, I had to be immediately at a top level defensively. But my teammates quickly made me comfortable, so I didn’t necessarily feel any pressure and I knew how to adapt. Since the start of the season I have been with the first team and I am working hard in training to have time to play with the first team. I think yesterday (Sunday) was the start of something, and I hope to play as much as possible here at AS Monaco. It’s nice that the coach trusts me despite the unfavorable match circumstances. I want to repay that confidence, to prove to him on a daily basis that he can count on me. I arrived here as an U17, I passed through the levels and today playing on the Stade Louis-II pitch in front of the fans is the result of a long journey. I hope to continue in this way and prove to AS Monaco that they can trust me.”
Giulian Biancone :
“At first, we had to think about keeping the score, because we had this victory which seemed to beckon us. There were the facts of play with the two red cards which we conceded. So in playing with nine against eleven our only mission was to keep the score the same. Then, when the pressure dropped a little after the match, we all enjoyed what we had done, the young players who played in their first match in Ligue 1 and even me. We were all happy with a first appearance this season and this victory. As the coach said in a press conference, he threw us into the deep end to find out if we could swim, and it turned out that we were able to do well. But it was a matter of doing it together. All the young player who came on were helped a lot by those who were already on the pitch. In addition to this, we have a tight, united squad, so there really weren’t any worries about that, about the cohesion and the job that had to be done. It is always a pride to wear the AS Monaco jersey — Monaco, I’ve been here since I was 15 so the club is special to me. Beyond that, it’s a shame that all our supporters could not be present due to the health restrictions, but this victory is for all those who were watching from in front of their screens, those who were at the Stade Louis-II and all those who support us across France.”
Benoît Badiashile :
“It was a very unique situation, especially given the circumstances of the match. We finished the game with nine men, so necessarily the coach had made changes to adapt to the circumstances. The young players who came on, Chrislain (Matsima) and Eliot (Matazo ) played very very well. They made good substitute appearances and I’m happy for them. They were able to adapt quickly and on top of that we had already played together with Chrislain during preseason, so we had already created a sense of how to relate to each other on the pitch. Eliot is a very intelligent person so he already knew how to handle the situation. And the same goes for Giulian (Biancone), even if he already knows the highest level since he was on loan at the Cercle Brugge last season, so he’s used to dealing with this kind of situation. In the end we managed to earn the result and that’s the most important thing. AS Monaco have been known for a long time for their academy, there are a lot of players who manage to come out of it and it is good for the club’s image and for the youngsters who can benefit from it. “