MONACO (AP) - Monaco top scorer Radamel Falcao has not fully recovered from a hip injury and is doubtful for the Champions League game against Manchester City on Wednesday.
Coach Leonardo Jardim said Tuesday that he will make a late decision on whether to start Falcao, who scored twice in the first leg of their Round of 16 contest as Monaco lost 5-3 after leading 3-2.
“The news is that he’s a bit better. But I don’t know if he’s well enough to start the game tomorrow,” Jadim told a news conference. “We’ll wait until tomorrow to see if he’s fit enough to start.”
Falcao has scored 24 goals this season, although none since the City game three weeks ago, where he also missed a penalty.
But Jardim has backed him to take one again on Wednesday, should be play, even though Brazilian Fabinho - the club’s other penalty taker - has never missed one for Monaco.
“If Falcao is there, he will take it,” Jardim said. “If not, it will be Fabinho.”
Falcao picked up the injury late in Saturday’s home game against Bordeaux, where he came on as a substitute during the second half.
The Colombia striker was felled by a heavy challenge form Bordeaux defender Nicolas Pallois and hobbled off near the end of the game, which league leader Monaco won 2-0 to maintain its three-point lead over Paris Saint-Germain.
Should Falcao not start, then forward Valere Germain will likely be picked alongside 18-year-old Kylian Mbappe, who has scored 10 in his last 10 games to become one of the most sought-after young players in European football.
Jardim thinks Germain, who has scored 13 goals this season, acting mostly as a foil for Mbappe or Falcao, is ready to play.
“Given the way we play tactically, he is a support striker who looks for space and tries to make the defense move out of position,” Jardim said. “He has done a good job for us this season.”
Jardim must also cope without Kamil Glick, his best defender, who is suspended, with Brazilian Jemerson set to replace him at center half.
Jardim expects City to score, given its attacking strength and attack-minded focus.
“I think we will need to score three goals to go through,” the Portuguese coach said. “Both teams will continue with the same idea in mind. It’s difficult to change the mentality of City and Monaco players now. I think there will be a lot of space and also a lot of goals.”
Jardim has been delighted with his attack this season - hard not to when it has scored 123 goals - but he expects much more from his defense.
“”I’ve watched the match again twice. I told my players, even today, that the small details count,” he said. “It’s important not to repeat the mistakes from the first game. We need to be more careful in defense and we need to sort a few things out.”
Portuguese playmaker Bernardo Silva, one of Monaco’s best players this season, says the players know the plan to topple City.
“We have our strategy, but I won’t say how we will play,” he said. “We have to attack of course, but stay calm. Because if we attack like crazy we can concede goals and it will be all over.
“Tomorrow will be an open game with goals and great goals and entertainment for everyone watching,” added Silva, who has scored 10 goals this season. “We need to be optimistic because if we play with fear, then we’ll go out.”
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