What: French Ligue 1
Who: Monaco vs Marseille
When: Sunday 26th January, 2014, at 20:00 UK Time
Where: Stade Louis II, Monaco, France

Destroyed Dreams?

Monaco’s title aspirations were dealt the worst possible blow in midweek with the news that Radamel Falcao has suffered a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament tear, one that will also likely see him miss out on the upcoming summer’s World Cup in Brazil with Colombia. Without his side’s most important player, Claudio Ranieri’s title hopes are in serious doubts, as his team trail league leaders Paris Saint-Germain by six points. Failure to find a suitable replacement for Falcao will leave his side with a serious deficit up-front.

It will be interesting to see how Monaco react to the blow. They might be 13 points ahead of Marseille in the standings, but the principality-based side have not enjoyed their recent games against Marseille in the Stade Louis II stadium, winning once in the last six competitive encounters between them, which dates back to 8th April, 2006, courtesy of a sole goal from former Uruguay man Javier Chevanton.

Nonetheless, Monaco remain undefeated in 19 of their last 21 matches in Ligue 1, falling only to Lille and Valenciennes, and boast a strong side without Falcao, which will worry the visitors.

Ligue 1 Attention

Marseille’s 5-4 loss to Nice on Wednesday night on home soil dumped the southern side from the French Cup. With nothing more but the domestic championship to go for, after having been knocked out of the Champions League, Les Phoceens know that they need to get their act together in order to face Monaco in the best of spirits.

The 1993 Champions League winners have been amongst Ligue 1’s best attacking units on the road this season, winning five of their eleven games and scoring 15 goals in the process. However, the team need to shape up, according to goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, should they want to have any hopes of winning against Monaco. 

“When you lose 5-4 at home against a second-string Nice team, conceding goals in a childish manner, it is a real shame. It is a shame what we did this [Tuesday] evening and now everyone needs to assume their responsibilities. This is necessary so that we can come back against Monaco on Sunday. Today we are left with nothing more than the league, we have no right to let our guard down anymore and relapse”, declared the Marseille captain after the game against Nice.

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Recent form

Montpellier 1-1 Monaco (10/01; Ligue 1)
Toulouse 0-2 Monaco (19/01; Ligue 1)
Chasselay 0-3 Monaco (22/01; Coupe de France)

Evian Thonon Gaillard 1-2 Marseille (12/01; Ligue 1)
Lyon 2-1 Marseille (15/01; Coupe de la Ligue)
Marseille 4-5 Nice (21/01; Coupe de France)

Key absences

Monaco: Radamel Falcao; Anthony Martial; Borja Lopez; Nacer Barazite; Nabil Dirar

Marseille: Andre Ayew 

Players to watch

Monaco – James Rodriguez: Another Colombian will have to step up as Falcao is confirmed out for the long haul. One of the best midfield talents out there, he has the potential to turn the game in his team’s favour with his bag of tricks.

Marseille – Florian Thauvin: The youngster has broken through into the side in the best way possible, scoring six goals and assisting another four in 15 appearances for the club this term. Like Rodriguez, his abilities could be key to breaking up Monaco’s defence.

Match Prediction

It will be interesting to see how the 2004 Champions League finalists will cope with Falcao’s absence. Marseille have a good record at the Stade Louis II, but that could come to an end on as Monaco are just a step above them, even with Falcao missing. Monaco 2-0 Marseille.

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