The UEFA Champions League has reached the business end of the competition. It's knockout football. There is no margin for error, there can be no more slip-ups. Ahead of the round of 16, we take a closer look at how Monaco made it through the group stage and assess their chances of marching into the quarter-finals.
THE JOURNEY SO FAR
The Principality club was drawn in a tough group which included Tottenham Hotspur, Bayer Leverkusen and a tricky trip to Moscow to face UCL stalwarts CSKA. Taking all six points from their clashes with Spurs, a 2-1 home victory over the Premier League side on Matchday 5 secured their passage to the round of 16 as group winners.
MOST EXCITING MOMENT
Monaco were out for revenge when they travelled to Wembley on Matchday 2 to meet Tottenham, who had eliminated the Ligue 1 club from last season's UEFA Europa League with a 4-1 destruction at White Hart Lane. Monaco had happy memories in the English capital after dispatching Arsenal 3-1 at the Emirates in the 2014-15 UCL, and made more in September after goals from Thomas Lemar and Bernardo Silva sealed a famous 2-1 victory.
Overcoming the Premier League club was always going to be the stiffest test of Monaco's mettle in this season's UCL, but even coach Leonardo Jardim will have been pleasantly surprised to see his side earn two deserved victories over Mauricio Pochettino’s side. Victory at home in November saw Jardim’s side top their Champions League group for the fourth time in a row (2003-04, 2004-05 and 2014-15).
Portuguese midfield maestro Bernardo Silva has been the standout performer of Monaco’s season so far. His two goals in the group stage earned his side four points, which ultimately led to their qualification. The 22-year-old has been a revelation since his arrival from Benfica in 2014 and this season is stepping up as a leader of his side. The Portugal international will have a big say on Monaco’s future in the UCL.
CHANCES OF PROGRESSION
Monaco will go into their last 16 clash with Manchester City as underdogs for many, which is no doubt doing them a disservice. They are flying high in Ligue 1 with a young, dynamic side, while Pep Guardiola’s men continue to struggle to adapt to life under the new regime. Monaco have won all but one of their six previous two-legged ties against English clubs.