In an odd choice for a preseason friendly match, Europe’s latest nouveau riche side Monaco took on Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.
Star signing Radamel Falcao started the match for Les Monegasques, who eased to a 3-0 victory thanks to goals from Layvin Kurzawa, Marcel Tisserand and Falcao.
The 27-year-old, despite popular belief (h/t ESPN FC), played the best part of an hour in the East Midlands, as Claudio Ranieri’s side dismantled Nigel Pearson’s Foxes.
Taking away anything from a friendly is difficult, but there have been indications during the Principality outfit’s preseason preparations that Falcao will take longer to settle than first thought.
Although the former Atletico Madrid striker found the back of the net after 38 minutes, the performance (as with many in preseason) did not set pulses racing.
ASM took the lead early through defender Kurzawa, but Falcao was getting frustrated up against the physical presence of Leicester defender Wes Morgan.
So often capable of getting the better of defenders of a far higher calibre than Morgan with Porto and Atletico, the Colombian struggled to enforce himself upon the championship side for the best part of the game.
When he did find the net, it was thanks largely to the vision of Mounir Obbadi, who was excellent all game, a low cross from Italian defender Andrea Raggi, and a simple but effective dummy from Belgian starlet Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco.
The move was so complete that all Falcao had to do was side-foot the ball past goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Aside from that though, there was little to get excited about regarding the prolific marksman’s performance.
Of course, the pace of the match was pedestrian, as expected from a preseason friendly, but Monaco hardly demolished Leicester despite the score line.
They dominated with ease but often did not push the issue at times, and that is partly due to the lack of coherence in Monaco’s attacking unit at present.
Ranieri’s side are talented going forward—of that there is no doubt on the part of the new arrivals or of some of the promising players who helped the club gain promotion from Ligue 2 last season.
But a team blessed with the talents of Falcao, Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez is going to take time—which the coach and benefactors may not have an abundance of—to create the flowing football the sum of their parts should be capable of.
Those star talents need to adapt to one another.
Falcao’s miss from Moutinho’s free kick in the first half was a sign that the pair have yet to strike up the required understanding. The Portuguese dictated the play for the visitors, as he did throughout his time with Porto, and it is vital that the main orchestrator and the Colombian strike up a relationship.
Moutinho was the best player on the pitch, changing the tempo with every touch and pass and adding a precise, calculated element that still seems lost among his teammates.
But Eric Abidal and Ricardo Carvalho looked calm and composed in the centre of defence for the Principality side, and there are signs that some of the key elements are not far off full match fitness.
Falcao remains relatively subdued so far in his early showings, and with the season less than a fortnight away, the signs are that the Colombian and Monaco could be slower off the mark than originally anticipated.
Since preseason clashes count for little, the Colombian could kick into high gear as soon as the competitive games start, but for now Ranieri has some teething issues to deal with.
Overall rating for Falcao: 2 out of 5