Monaco 'not thinking' about Manchester City
By D. Crossan
Ligue 1 leaders Monaco say they won't think about Manchester City until after facing Bastia in Corsica on Friday evening.
The principality club take on City in Manchester on Tuesday night in the first leg of the Round of 16 of the Champions League but coach Leonardo Jardim insists Monaco are taking things one game at a time.
The Portuguese said: "Our strategy is to work on the Bastia game. We're not thinking about the City match. I told the players that the best preparation for the Champions League is to win on Friday. The most important thing at the moment is to focus on the league. Bastia are a team who play with intensity and who need points. They're not doing well in the table but we must be wary of them as it's always difficult to play over there."
While Monaco boast a three-point lead over champions Paris Saint-Germain at the top, Bastia are off the foot of the table on goal difference alone, some 36 points back from the Ligue 1 table-toppers. Monaco will be without Gabriel Boschilia for around six months after the Brazilian suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the 5-0 win over Metz last weekend. Djibril Sidibé and Guido Carrillo are both back in squad training after groin injuries.
Competition for places
18-year-old sensation Kylian Mbappé added to the competition for places in attack with a stunning hat-trick against Metz, his first in Ligue 1. Jardim has welcomed the selection headache the youngster's form has given him: "Competition for places in attack is a good thing," he said. "it's important as it gives me more solutions. The squad needs everybody. We are waiting for Carrillo to come back. Joao Moutinho played very well in the last game and Nabil Dirar is back fom the Africa Cup of Nations."
On Monaco's bid to become champions for the first time since 2000, defender Almamy Touré added: "PSG are in great form and we saw that against Barcelona. We know it will be very difficult to take the title but we're thinking only of ourselves. If we win every game between now and the end of the season then they won't be able to catch us."
Bastia have gone seven matches without a win in all competitions, losing five of them, and last weekend's 4-1 loss at Toulouse, a match in which captain Yannick Cahuzac and Nicolas Saint-Ruf were sent off, led to coach François Ciccolini being asked questions about his future.
Ciccolini responded: "Have I thought about resigning? No. We have directors and a president and when they need to make the big decisions they take them. We've seen that several times in the past and there are no problems on that front as we have frank and cordial relations."
Allan Saint-Maximin, on loan from Monaco, will not play against his parent club, while Cahuzac and Saint-Ruf are banned. Lenny Nangis and Alexander Djiku are back from suspension. Bastia's postponed home game with Nantes has been rescheduled for March 1.
SC Bastia: Leca (c); Cioni, Djiku, Rose, El-Kaoutari, Bengtsson; Oniangué, Mostefa, Danic; S. Diallo, Raspentino
AS Monaco: Subasic; Alm. Touré, Glik, Jemerson, B. Mendy; B. Silva, Fabinho, Bakayoko, Lemar; Falcao (c), Germain