AS Monaco host Olympique de Marseille on Sunday in Ligue 1's final match before everyone breaks for the World Cup and it is a chance for the home side to break into France's top four. The two sides are level on 27 points so Les Monegasques could overtake OM with a win and go into the winter pause fourth or higher depending on Stade Rennais' result at home to Toulouse on Saturday.
ASM sporting director Paul Mitchell sat down with CBS Sports ahead of what is one of the more glamorous fixtures on the Championnat calendar following qualification for the UEFA Europa League knockout phase.
"Marseille is always a big game," said the Englishman. "That is one thing that I have learned since being here. OM are a massive club in France and they have a big history, like us, as a competitive side. We narrowly missed out on second place to them last year so we will be excited for this match. We are in good form and last week was a big one with qualifying to the next phase of the Europa League as well as a fantastic performance in a difficult place like Toulouse.
"Marseille and Monaco, two heavyweight clubs in a big Sunday night clash under the lights -- I cannot wait. In terms of being on track, someone gave me a statistic the other day as I love my data, and this is our best start to a campaign in five Ligue 1 seasons. We are on track and for the past two years we have really come out of the January bend very strong. We are closer to the podium, just one point off Rennes on 27, so it would be nice to finish a very strong series of games and performances well. That does not take away from a strong first half of the season, though."
Monaco and Marseille have experienced contrasting fortunes so far this season with the principality outfit starting slowly as Les Phoceens rocketed up the Ligue 1 table only for the roles to be reversed with ASM now in position to potentially usurp a flagging OM side in the race for a UEFA Champions League spot.
"We knew that it would be a complex start and that we were going to come up against six or seven of last season's best sides domestically," Mitchell admitted. "It was as difficult as it possibly could have been, and we also had the playoff heartbreak against PSV, so the team showed great maturity to overcome that -- especially when you consider Shakhtar Donetsk the year before that. We did struggle to find form, focus and balance between Europe and domestic, which we have done a lot better this time. Qualifying for the knockout rounds, enjoying our best start in five years, still being France's youngest team -- there is a lot to congratulate going into this break."
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Here are our storylines, how you can watch the match and more:
How to watch and odds
- Date: Sunday, Nov. 13 | Time: 2:45 p.m. ET
- Location: Stade Louis II -- Fontvieille, Monaco
- TV: beIN Sports | Live stream: fuboTV (try for free)
- Odds: ASM +125; Draw +250; OM +200 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Monaco: The big news for Philippe Clement's men ahead of the game was Youssouf Fofana's callup to France's World Cup squad for Qatar alongside former Monegasque star Aurelien Tchouameni with Mitchell delighted for both midfielders after their development during his time with the Ligue 1 side.
"We are extremely proud and happy for him," said Mitchell of Fofana. "I have been fortunate enough to watch two of this upcoming World Cup squad grow and develop during my tenure here. To see how far both Youssouf and Aurelien have come has been amazing. First, compliments to both as individuals, but also to the work that has gone on tirelessly behind the scenes, in the change of strategy, as well as the change of philosophy and work within the club over the last two and a half years. Many people can be proud of that work coming together with the result being two fantastic options for the French national team at this World Cup."
Benoit Badiashile, who was capped at the same time as Fofana last month, ultimately missed out on Didier Deschamps' traveling party and returns from suspension this weekend with Myron Boadu's knee issues the main absence for the hosts.
Paul Mitchell has been speaking to @Jon_LeGossip in an exclusive for us at CBS.— Ben Jacobs (@JacobsBen) November 10, 2022
On Laurence Stewart’s departure to Chelsea he says:
“I think that Laurence typifies what we are trying to do in Monaco: grow, challenge and develop great practitioners as well as great players.
Mitchell also spoke of the recent loss of Laurence Stewart to Chelsea as technical director, which the former Red Bull chief likened to losing a player: "Similar to Youssouf, I sit here incredibly proud," Mitchell told CBS Sports. "The commitment of mine and the president's was not only to grow players but to also grow people. I think that Laurence typifies what we are trying to do in Monaco -- grow, challenge, and develop great practitioners as well as great players. I think that we are doing that. The stability and consistency that we now have in our decision making on and off the pitch really helps in this respect.
"Laurence goes with a bittersweet blessing from us. Bitter in the fact that we lose a great practitioner who is highly regarded and has done a great job on the recruitment, player development, and scouting aspects of our business. Sweet in the fact that, like anyone else in the development business, we have developed a practitioner to the quality levels that he now has to be able to go to one of the biggest organizations in the world. Everybody must take pride in that moment as we do with the players."
Marseille: As for OM, five defeats from the last eight across all competitions with just two wins is not nearly good enough and Igor Tudor now finds himself under fire. A home win over Olympique Lyonnais last time out brought a bit of breathing space, but a bad result here would raise the same questions that have been asked of the Croat lately. Nuno Tavares should start but is one booking away from a ban while Eric Bailly continues to struggle with a leg issue. Matteo Guendouzi and Jordan Veretout have been called up for World Cup duty.
This one should be a great way for Ligue 1 action to finish until after the break for Qatar. ASM stand to get into the top four with a win while OM cannot afford to lose. There is particular emphasis on the midfield in this one given that Fofana, Guendouzi and Veretout are all in Les Bleus' traveling party. That is the area of the field where this game will be won and lost. Pick: Monaco 2, Marseille 1.