MX23RW : Wednesday, September 22 08:40:01| >> :120:63722:63722:
Sep 16, 2021 at 8pm UK at Stade Louis II.
MonacoMonaco
1-0
Sturm GrazSturm Graz
Diatta (66')
Jakobs (32')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Wuthrich (64'), Prass (90+5')

Preview: Monaco vs. Sturm Graz - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League clash between Monaco and Sturm Graz, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Monaco head into their Europa League fixture with Sturm Graz looking for a change of fortunes after a disappointing start to the season.

While Nico Kovac's side missed out on qualifying for the Champions League group stages, Sturm Graz are competing at this stage of a European competition for the first time in a decade.


Match preview

Monaco head coach Niko Kovac pictured on September 11, 2021© Reuters

On the back of last season's third-placed finish in Ligue 1, Kovac and his Monaco squad appeared well set to secure a return to the Champions League after a three-year absence.

However, despite holding an advantage in their playoff tie against Shakhtar Donetsk with 16 minutes remaining, Monaco squandered the chance of competing among European football's elite.

The disappointing double-header against the Ukrainian giants occurred during the middle of an alarming set of results, Kovac witnessing a fourth defeat in six matches at the weekend.

Marseille's 2-0 win at Stade Louis II has left Monaco down in 16th position in Ligue 1 ahead of the short trip to unbeaten Nice at the weekend.

While the prospect of that fixture may influence Kovac's team selection for this contest, the Croatian is also aware that he can ill-afford another setback in Europe.

As far as Sturm Graz are concerned, this fixture is one of their most notable of the past 10 years, having finally ended their streak of qualification exits.

The Austrian side had tried and failed to come through the early stages of European competitions six times before they got the better of Slovenian minnows Mura last month.

Graz have won just one league title since 2002, but everything appears to be moving in the right direction under Christian Ilzer after their third-placed finish during 2020-21.

Despite their opening-day defeat to runaway leaders Red Bull Salzburg, Graz have since collected 14 points from their last six league fixtures.

Monaco form (all competitions):
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • L

Sturm Graz Europa League form:
  • W
  • W

Sturm Graz form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • W



Team News

Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni pictured in August 2020© Reuters

Summer signing Myron Boadu is one of a number of Monaco players who will expect to be handed an opportunity on Thursday night.

Strahinja Pavlovic could be drafted into the centre of the defence, while Kovac may consider resting Aurelien Tchouameni with the midfielder having spent the international break with France.

Despite failing to make a start in Ligue 1 or Europe this season, Cesc Fabregas will hope to feature in this game.

Barring any late fitness issues, Ilzer could stick with the Graz XI which started the 2-1 victory over SK Austria Klagenfurt.

Ilzer has been consistent in using a diamond system, with chief playmaker Manprit Sarkaria joining Kelvin Yeboah on four goals for the season.

Jon Gorenc Stankovic, formerly of Huddersfield Town, may potentially take the place of Ivan Ljubic in midfield.

Monaco possible starting lineup:
Nubel; Matsima, Pavlovic, Badiashile, Henrique; Martins, Fofana, Fabregas, Diop; Volland, Boadu

Sturm Graz possible starting lineup:
Siebenhandl; Gazibegovic, Affengruber, Wuthrich, Dante; Hierlander, Stankovic, Sarkaria, Kuen; Jantscher, Yeboah


SM words green background

We say: Monaco 3-1 Sturm Graz

Graz will fancy their chances of capitalising on Monaco's poor results of late, particularly with the pressure increasing on Kovac.

Nevertheless, we still expect the home side to come through with all three points in a match which should be easy on the eye.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data


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How you voted: Monaco vs Sturm Graz

Monaco
80.9%
Draw
8.1%
Sturm Graz
11.0%
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Monaco manager Niko Kovac pictured in February 2021
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