This comes courtesy of Matt Demlein, who offered to give a bit of a look at Montpellier, ahead of tomorrow's friendly.
On Tuesday night, Sporting Kansas City plays the French Champions, Montpellier. Montpellier were a surprise this past season, holding off Paris Saint-Germain during the second half of the season despite having a budget that was smaller than the transfer fee PSG paid for Javier Pastore.
Montpellier started the season off strong, losing only two of their first eight. However, where the team truly proved themselves was in the second half of the season. Montpellier lost only three games between January and the end of the season in May. They played a thrilling 2-2 in Paris in February, a game in which PSG had to come back in the late stages to pull back a tie.
Much of that team still remains, minus one big loss, however. Attacker Olivier Giroud left the club shortly after playing for France at EURO 2012, heading to Arsenal. Giroud lead the “Ligue” with 21 goals.
However, the team does still have John Utaka, who once played at Portsmouth when they were in the Premier league. Utaka scored both goals in Montpellier’s final game of the season at Auxurre that clinched the squad the title.
Another player to watch is Younes Belhanda. Belhanda has attracted interest as well from English clubs as the team’s primary playmaker. In fact, Belhanda’s loss at the end of the season, due to a red card for fighting in a wild game against Evian, was considered to be a bigger hit to Montpellier’s title chances than losing Giroud would have been. Montpellier is looking at a long season this year, with the French Champions Trophy game next week in New York, as well as Champions League play. The team is not deep, and will have to determine early on if they want to compete at that level. The last time the team went to Europe, in the Europa League in 2010-2011, they finished 14th.