Falcao back as Monaco face Bordeaux
By I. Holyman
AS Monaco are likely to have the boost of having Radamel Falcao back in their side as they seek to strengthen their grip on second place at home to Girondins de Bordeaux on Friday.
AS Monaco - Girondins de Bordeaux
The Colombia international striker has been sidelined for almost a month after limping out of the French champions' 3-2 win over Lyon on 4 February. Since, his team-mates have held on to second place in the Ligue 1 table in his absence, and they are currently two points clear of third-placed Marseille.
But the return of their captain, who has struck 17 goals in 20 league games this season, is still more than welcome with the Bordeaux match the opening fixture in a month of March that ends with the Coupe de la Ligue final against Paris Saint-Germain.
"I'm a lot better, I'm almost ready to get back into competitive action," Falcao told at the Laureus World Sport Awards in Monaco this week. "I hope to return to full training this week, and perhaps I'll be able to play this weekend."
WATCH: Monaco draw at Toulouse last time out
With Falcao reinforcing his squad, Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim will be hopeful of extending his team's streak of scoring in consecutive league games at the Stade Louis II to a jaw-dropping 51 matches.
The Portuguese coach put his players through their final paces ahead of the game at the Stade Louis II with their usual training ground, up in the hills behind the principality at La Turbie, covered in snow.
The wintry conditions on the Mediterranean coast will make life less comfortable for Bordeaux, who have historically enjoyed their cross-country trek, south-west to south-east.
Monaco's triumph in the fixture last season was their first in 11 attempts with Les Girondins winning 13 of 52 visits and leaving with a point on a further 16 occasions.
Bordeaux coach Gustavo Poyet would surely have taken a point from a trip to face the champions a couple of weeks ago. But his team have picked up just a point from his last two league matches — losing to Olympique de Marseille and drawing 0-0 with OGC Nice last time out — to find themselves still three points off fifth place.
It means the freshly installed Bordeaux boss is looking for more from his team, even if he will be without suspended top scorer Malcom.
WATCH: Monaco win in Bordeaux this season
"We need to put in a complete performance, we have to be thorough. We mustn't give them any space while also trying to play ourselves. You have to find a balance: defend well, but play when you have the ball…We have to win. After two matches without winning, we need to get three points," said the former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder.
"We have to score, we have to put Monaco under pressure. We have to go forward, to use the space. They attack a lot, which leaves space for us. But you also have to defend too."
AS Monaco: Subasic; D. Sidibé, Raggi (c), Jemerson, Jorge; Moutinho, Fabinho; Ghezzal, Lemar, R. Lopes; Jovetic
FC Girondins de Bordeaux: Costil (c); Sabaly, Baysse, Pablo, Poundjé; Lerager, Otavio, Plasil; De Préville, Laborde, Kamano