Saturday, February 8, 2014

Monaco-Paris Saint-Germain Preview: Ranieri's men out to reel in reigning champions

PSG forward Ezequiel Lavezzi

A couple of Ligue 1's leading lights will be missing as Monaco face Paris Saint-Germain in a crucial top of the table clash on Sunday.

The reigning champions travel to the Stade Louis II five points clear of their hosts at the top of the table and can take another step towards securing a second straight title by extending that lead with victory over the principality club.

PSG have suffered just one defeat in the league this campaign, a 2-0 loss at Evian in December, but face a difficult challenge if they are to maintain that record against a Monaco side that is superb in front its home fans.

Valenciennes are the only team to win in the principality this season, although Evian and Toulouse have earned a share of the spoils at the Stade Louis II.

A PSG triumph would be severely damaging to Monaco's already fading title hopes, but Laurent Blanc's men will have to achieve that without club-record signing Edinson Cavani, who misses out through a thigh injury sustained in last Friday's 2-0 win over Bordeaux.

The Uruguay striker joins Monaco's star recruit Radamel Falcao on the sidelines, after the Colombia international that suffered a knee ligament injury last month.

Falcao was on target in the reverse fixture at the Parc des Princes back in September, cancelling out Zlatan Ibrahimovic's opener in a 1-1 draw, but PSG should befavourites to claim the points in his absence.

Ibrahimovic will likely be key if PSG are to earn a first league win over Monaco since 2007, after the Sweden striker took his tally for the season to 31 with a double on Tuesday as Blanc's side clinched a place in the Coupe de la Ligue final by winning 2-1 at Nantes.

The former Milan and Barcelona man is expected to play despite back problems, although Adrien Rabiot (knee) and Christophe Jallet (back) are both absent.

Striker Dimitar Berbatov could make his debut for Monaco following his switch from Fulham, although Ranieri may choose to stick with the in-form strike pairing of Emmanuel Riviere and Valere Germain.

Defender Aymen Abdennour (thigh) is out, but midfielder Jeremy Toulalan returns from suspension and Ricardo Carvalho is back after missing last Saturday's 2-2 draw with Lorient through illness.

Monaco-Paris Saint-Germain Preview: Ranieri's men out to reel in reigning champions Rating: 4.5 Posted by: Unknown


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