AS Monaco captain and top scorer Radamel Falcao misses out against Ligue 1 Conforama's meanest defence as the champions head to Montpellier Hérault SC on Saturday.
Montpellier Hérault SC - AS Monaco
A muscle problem meant the Colombian already sat out Monaco's recent wins over AS Yzeure and OGC Nice, in the Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue respectively, but Les Rouges et Blancs coach Leonardo Jardim had hoped to start the 31-year-old against a Montpellier side who have conceded only 13 league goals this season.
Monaco have enjoyed attacking success in Falcao's absence over the last week - Guido Carrillo bagged a hat-trick in the 5-2 win over Yzeure last Saturday; Keita Baldé laid on both goals in the 2-1 victory over Nice on Tuesday - but the Portuguese tactician will want his 15-goal talisman back quickly.
"We used a different approach to get our two goals," he said of his side's Derby de la Côte d'Azur triumph. "But it's to be expected that we're stronger with the injured players back. We have a competitive squad to enable us to play every three days."
Midfielders Youri Tielemans and Adama Traoré are out due to a knee injury and illness, but Monaco will otherwise look to pull out all the stops against a side that held them to a 1-1 in September's reverse fixture as they try to close the nine-point gap on Ligue 1 Conforama leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
Seventh-placed Montpellier are at full-strength, with 19-year-old centre-back Nicolas Cozza's groin strain their only injury concern, but with six games in all competitions still to play in a hectic January schedule, coach Michel Der Zakarian will have to rotate his side in the coming weeks to have the best chance of staying in touch with the European chase.
"We knew this month would be important," said the 54-year-old Armenian, a stalwart of La Paillade's defence in the 1990s. "But we would prefer to play every three days than not at all. Our ambition is to go as far as possible in both cups and then do even better in Ligue 1."
Montpellier: Lecomte; Aguilar, Mendes, Hilton (c), Congré, Roussillon; Skhiri, Sambia, Piriz; Sio, Ikoné
Monaco: Subasic; Sidibé, Glik, Jemerson, Raggi (c); Fabinho, Moutinho; Lopes, Lemar, Diakhaby; Baldé