Montpellier HSC has established itself as a mid-table Ligue 1 club for quite a while. The club, from the south coast of France, enjoyed a dramatic Ligue 1 title victory exactly a decade ago. However, ever since, Paris-Saint Germain have largely made Ligue 1 their monopoly.
Their manager Dall'Oglio was hired earlier this summer to push Montpellier into the European scene after consistent top-ten finishes in the last three campaigns.
Montpellier's revival under Der Zakarian
For the last few seasons, Montpellier earned the nicked 'Michael Der Zakarian's team' after the club started embracing the basics of modern football. Prior to Der Zakarian's spell at the club, Montpellier often finished in the bottom rung of the table sometimes barely escaping relegation.
Under der Zakarian, the club not only progressed in terms of philosophy but also in terms of results and overall standing in Ligue 1. In his 4-year spell at the club, Montpellier went from a 15th-placed team to reaching as high as sixth in the 2018/19 season.
Dall'Oglio's tenure at the start of this season
Following Der Zakarian's departure, the former Stade Brestois manager, Olivier Dall'Oglio, took charge of the club.
Despite his relative inexperience in top-flight French football, he was well aided by the club in the transfer market.
The club succeeded in landing former Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho from Crystal Palace as well as Valentin Germain from Marseille. Both of these signings have had a major role in Montpellier's excellent results this season.
Playing system and subsequent results
Montpellier opted for a traditional 4-2-3-1 this season from a more attacking 4-3-3 employed during Der Zakarian's tenure. The centre-back pairing of Sakho and Nicolas Cozza has been sensational this season. Valentin Germain has been superb for them so far, scoring four goals and two assists in fifteen appearances.
Their goalkeeper, Jonas Omlin, is perhaps having his breakthrough season, well aided by a reliable back-four.
Montpellier struggled early on, losing their opening game to Sampaoli's Marseille. Subsequent draws to Troyes, Reims and Bordeaux caused an initial fall in the team's rankings.
Results improved in late October as they managed to win six out of their nine league fixtures. This included a 1-0 surprise win over Christophe Galtier's Nice and a tight win against Lens by the same margin.
What lies ahead
Montpellier sits fifth in the table with just three points off second-placed OGC Nice. A top two finish will guarantee them an automatic qualification to the Champions League. Ideally, finishing third would be a remarkable campaign as well giving them a qualifying route to Champions League football.