PARIS: French champions Monaco will make the tricky trip to Lyon on Friday without red-hot striker Radamel Falcao, as they look to keep up the pressure on Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
Leonardo Jardim’s side dropped two points with a 1-1 home draw against Montpellier before the international break to slip three points adrift of PSG at the top of the table.
Colombian Falcao has been in stunning form so far this season, scoring 12 goals in just eight league outings, but his midweek efforts in helping his country qualify for next year’s World Cup have ruled him out of Friday’s game.
“He played last night, then there are the different trips (to get back to Monaco),” Jardim said on Wednesday.
“To try to play against Lyon could kill him. He will not play. In fact, his physical condition doesn’t allow him to play two matches in 48 hours.”
Falcao will play in the World Cup finals for the first time in Russia, after setting up James Rodriguez’s goal as Colombia booked their place with a 1-1 draw in Peru.
“He deserves to play in a World Cup, he is a great player of a very high quality,” added Jardim.
“I congratulated him for the qualification, but my management of Falcao won’t change. I’ll do everything I can to keep him at his best.”
Despite Falcao’s early goal, Monaco were far from their best in their last league match against Montpellier and will have to bounce back with Argentinian Guido Carrillo likely to start up front.
Lyon have started to struggle in recent weeks after a bright start to the season and are winless in their last three matches, including back-to-back 3-3 draws against Angers and Dijon.
Bruno Genesio’s men will be without centre-back Marcelo, after the Brazilian’s bizarre sending off against Angers, when he was given a straight red card for accidentally knocking a yellow card out of the referee’s hand.
PSG pay a visit to lowly Dijon on Saturday with key forwards Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani boosted after helping their countries qualify for the World Cup in midweek.
World-record signing Neymar failed to score in Brazil’s final two World Cup qualifiers, so he will be desperate to terrorise a Dijon defence which has already shipped 17 goals in Ligue 1 this term.
Mbappe came off the bench as France confirmed their place in Russia with a 2-1 win over Belarus, while Cavani scored as Uruguay sealed second in South American qualifying, behind Brazil, by beating Bolivia 4-2.
Unai Emery’s side may have half an eye on Wednesday’s Champions League game against Anderlecht in Brussels, but should have more than enough to continue their unbeaten start to the season in all competitions.
The capital-city club are brimming with confidence after a stunning start to the campaign, which they continued by thrashing Bordeaux 6-2 a fortnight ago.
But centre-back Thiago Silva is likely to miss the matches at Dijon and Anderlecht after suffering a thigh muscle injury while on Brazil duty.
Under-fire Lille coach Marcelo Bielsa sees his team host Troyes as they continue their search for a first win since the opening weekend, after their last match at Amiens was abandoned when a stadium barrier collapsed, injuring 29 people.
On Sunday, Claudio Ranieri’s Nantes defend a seven-game unbeaten run at Bordeaux, while third-placed Marseille bid for a fourth straight win against newly-promoted Strasbourg.
Ligue 1 fixtures (all times GMT):-
Lyon v Monaco (1845)
Dijon v Paris Saint-Germain (1500), Caen v Angers, Guingamp v Rennes, Lille v Troyes, Saint-Etienne v Metz, Toulouse v Amiens (all 1800)
Bordeaux v Nantes (1300), Montpellier v Nice (1500), Strasbourg v Marseille (1900) — AFP