No Falcao, no problem for Monaco against Guingamp
Ligue 1 Conforama champions AS Monaco welcome EA Guingamp to the Stade Louis II on Saturday evening without the services of top scorer Radamel Falcao, but with Keita Baldé in nascent form.
AS Monaco - EA Guingamp
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Falcao has plundered 13 of Monaco's 28 Ligue 1 Conforama goals this term, the last of which came in the 2-0 win over SM Caen in Week 10, but a thigh injury meant that the Colombian club captain missed the club's 1-1 draw at Besiktas in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, and he is unlikely to return in time for the visit of Guingamp.
Paris Saint-Germain remain out in front, though Monaco are just five points back, and any fears the principality club might have had in losing ground have been assuaged in recent weeks by Baldé in particular, with the summer signing from Lazio scoring in each of the last two top-flight games for Leonardo Jardim's side.
With Djibril Sidibé also carrying a knock, Portuguese tactician Jardim has been experimenting with a three-man midfield with Baldé up front alone - something that worked a treat in the 2-0 win over Girondins de Bordeaux last Saturday.
"I looked at the stats and it's the first time in more than 60 years that Monaco have won three in a row against Bordeaux," beamed Jardim at his post-match press conference. "It was a good win. With three in midfield we're more compact and that leaves less space for the opposition. We're balanced and we win the ball more. It doesn't mean we're finished with 4-4-2 but it's all about getting the best out of the players."
Further tinkering will be required against Guingamp. As well as tired legs after a round 4,000-kilometre trip to Istanbul - and a draw that left Les Rouges et Blancs bottom of Group G - Jardim will also have to cater for the absence of recent Brazil centre-back Jemerson, who picked up a third yellow card of the campaign against Caen.
Guingamp begin the day in 11th, nine places and 11 points behind their hosts, but with an eight-point cushion on the automatic relegation places. Antoine Kombouaré is pushing to see a climb further up the table, though, after being held to a 1-1 draw at home to Amiens SC last time out, despite their visitors being down to ten men for the final half-hour.
"We could have won against Amiens but given the way the game went we're pretty happy with a point," said the former Paris Saint-Germain coach. "The hardest thing was equalising but the start of the second half was catastrophic. We played with 11 against ten for 34 minutes and never found a solution. Our technique let us down. Things are tough for us at the moment and we need to do better in both boxes. We need to stay strong."
Kombouaré's cause is not helped by the absence of first-choice right-back Jordan Ikoko and winger Yannis Salibur, both of whom have thigh injuries.
Monaco: To follow...
Guingamp: To follow...
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