Against the odds, Monaco’s national football team look like they might just repeat their 2004 UEFA Champions League success as they beat the Spanish side, RC Deportivo La Coruña, 5 –1 last night.
Didier Deschamps' team, currently languishing in 4th place in the French premier league, is therefore safely through to the final 16 knock-out competition that starts in 2005. The fact that Deportivo was already out of the competition, and coach Javier Irureta had opted to rest several key players, takes nothing away from the Monaco team’s emphatic victory. It put them at the top of Group A.
Also through to the final 16 are Olympique Lyonnais and FC Porto, the team that beat ASM in the final of the League in May 2004. ASM had travelled to Spain knowing that only a victory would guarantee their progress, and three first-half goals, from Ernesto Chevantón, Gaël Givet and Javier Saviola, effectively settled the contest. Maicon and Emmanuel Adebayor added further goals in the second 45 minutes, which means that Deportivo becomes the first side in Champions League history to end the group stage without scoring.
This time last year, AS Monaco made Champions League history by scoring the most goals ever in a single side when they beat Deportivo 8-3. In the French premier league the outlook is not so bright. Last week Deschamps’ players finally won a match – their first since September – when they beat Rennes 2-0, but they are 11 points away from top-placed Lyon.