Radamel Falcao and new signing Wissam ben Yedder will carry the hopes of AS Monaco as they seek to bounce back from their opening game loss when they go to FC Metz on Saturday.
FC Metz - AS Monaco
Falcao, a pivotal figure for the principality side in their narrow escape from relegation last season, could yet leave Monaco this summer, but is expected to line up alongside the freshly arrived Ben Yedder as they head to Lorraine looking to make amends for the 3-0 loss they suffered at home to Olympique Lyonnais to open the 2019/20 campaign on a low note.
Ben Yedder's signing and the return to the club after a loan spell and the Africa Cup of Nations for Keita Baldé gives Leonardo Jardim additional options up front while Falcao, who was suspended for the Lyon game, has impressed his coach in training.
"Falcao has worked really well this week with a good attitude and has shown a lot of desire. He's been with us for three weeks and is already in good shape," said Jardim of the 33-year-old, whose return will also compensate for the departure to Sevilla of Rony Lopes.
WATCH: Lyon maul Monaco in Week 1
"We have two extra attacking players, and Falcao is coming back. We have lost Rony Lopes though, but we do have more solutions. We talk about playing four players up front nowadays. It's normal that we have more options for that, we're happy. But we have to see what shape Ben Yedder, Onyekuru and Keita Baldé, who came back late after the Nations Cup, are in. It's still difficult for them. They need to work. We can't have six weeks of pre-season with them. So we have to handle them well."
Jardim: 'Ben Yedder's compatible with Falcao'
Stevan Jovetic, Pietro Pellegri and Willem Geubbels are all making their way back to fitness and will provide Jardim with even more options in attack, and he expects former Toulouse FC forward Ben Yedder — back in France after a fruitful three-year spell with Sevilla — to provide the perfect foil for Falcao.
"His profile will give the team solutions, especially by giving us more of a presence in the penalty area. We need players who knock our opponents off balance in the final 30 metres," explained the 2016/17 French title-winning boss.
"Ben Yedder is an important player who has scored a lot of goals in recent years. We can play him alongside a second striker. He's compatible with Falcao to play at the front of the attack."
Aleksandr Golovin also served a ban in Week 1 and the Russia international's return to availability is timely given the three-match suspension handed to Cesc Fabregas following his red card in the defeat to Lyon.
WATCH: Metz claim derby point at Strasbourg on top-flight return
Metz's return to the top flight after a single season absence was marked by an opening day derby with RC Strasbourg Alsace. Vincent Hognon's men fell behind at the home of their arch-rivals, but Habib Diallo — last season's leading scorer — found the net to earn last season's Domino's Ligue 2 champions a point.
"We came with the intention of not losing, of bringing a point back from Le Meinau. We did it, and we're very happy," said goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja. "In the first half, Strasbourg put us under pressure. We have young players who are discovering Ligue 1 this year, and they were perhaps held back by the pressure off the pitch.
"The coach found the right words to loosen us up. In the second half, we played our game. We didn't start well, we could have panicked, but we weathered the storm."
Metz: to follow
Monaco: to follow