For a club that barely managed to stay in the top half of Ligue 1 last season, AS Monaco have been in fine form in their current campaign.
Former Bayern boss Nico Kovac's appointment as manager of the club has been a decisive factor in their resurgence. Unlike the past couple of seasons, Monaco were quick off the blocks at the start of the season. They racked up 13 points from their opening six games to lead the table after the seventh round of matches.
While many expected the pace-setters to lose steam with tougher fixtures approaching, Monaco has held on. At the end of matchday 21, AS Monaco are fourth in the table just four points off Champions League qualification and six behind the league-leaders PSG.
However, the question that remains is whether Cesc Fabregas and co can achieve their Champions League ambitions?
Kovac has strengthened the squad
AS Monaco's front line struggled last season and they barely managed to cross the 40-goal mark. Islam Slimani netted just nine times across the twenty-game season. It left Wissam Ben Yedder with the bulk of the responsibility when it came to scoring goals.
Kovac was quick to address the team's issues in front of goal and signed Kevin Volland from Bayer Leverkusen. Volland has taken Ligue 1 by storm since arriving in France. The German international has already slammed one-third of Monaco's goals this season, taking the burden off Ben Yedder's shoulders.
Kovac has been tactically sound and has managed to get the best out of his squad. The decision to play Youssouf Fofana higher up the pitch has allowed Monaco to spend more time in their opponents' half. Kovac was also cautious of employing Cesc Fabregas as a regular central midfielder and the Spaniard has operated as an efficient substitute.
AS Monaco's character and recent run are cause for optimism
Apart from new arrivals and an overall improvement in their game, has shown character in desperate moments under Kovac. In the middle of October, there was speculation about Kovac's future with the club, following Monaco's third defeat in four matches to Olympique Lyon.
However, the team quickly regained some form secured three back-to-back victories, including a home win against Paris Saint-Germain.
AS Monaco are unbeaten in their last five outings. This run of results has also coincided with Marseille's decline. This bodes well for Monaco as Marseille are also chasing a Champions League spot.
AS Monaco definitely have the team and the manager to get into the Champions League next season and they already occupy the Europa League spot. A slip from Lyon or Lille would be the perfect opening for them to slot into a top-three finish.