Feared strikers prepare for clash as PSG takes on Monaco
ABS-CBN Sports on Jan 28, 2017 11:35 AM
FILE- In this Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016 file photo, PSG's Edinson Cavani reacts after their first goal during their French League One soccer match between PSG and Marseille at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, France. Sunday's table-topping clash between defending champion Paris Saint-Germain and league leader Monaco pits two of the league's most feared strikers against each other. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)
JEROME PUGMIRE, AP Sports Writer
PARIS (AP) — Sunday's table-topping clash between defending champion Paris Saint-Germain and league leader Monaco pits two of the league's top strikers against each other.
PSG's Edinson Cavani and Monaco's Radamel Falcao have both proved a big point already this season, but their duel is the perfect backdrop for an eagerly-awaited clash that severely tests both teams' title credentials.
Cavani has emerged from Zlatan Ibrahimovic's shadow to score 28 goals in 27 games this season, while Falcao has bounced back strongly from two miserable seasons in England's Premier League to spearhead Monaco's prolific attack.
A win would move Monaco six points clear of PSG, which is in third place.
Both teams are through to the next round of the Champions League and involved in both cup competitions. PSG and Monaco meet in the League Cup final in April after winning semifinals this week, with Cavani scoring twice and Falcao netting his 18th of the season.
The strikers are in near-identical form: Cavani has nine goals in the past eight games, Falcao has nine in nine.
"Cavani has had a magnificent season," Falcao said. "Since Ibra(himovic) left, all the responsibility for scoring has fallen to him."
That is not the case at Monaco, which has been sharing the goals around — a lot of them.
Monaco is the highest scoring side in Europe's top five leagues with a whopping 64 in 21 games. Monaco has treated its No. 1 fan — Prince Albert — to some dizzying attacking performances, scoring 91 goals in 35 games overall and at least four goals in a game on 10 occasions.
PSG's total of 102 league goals from last season's record-breaking campaign is within Monaco's sights, with 17 games left.
Monaco finished third last year, but a massive 31 points behind PSG.
This season's title challenge owes much to the resurgence of Falcao, who has also thrived under the added responsibility of captaincy.
After a career-threatening knee injury three years ago, he spent two difficult seasons on loan at Manchester United and Chelsea but struggled badly as form and pace eluded him. Now, he is back in the national team and back in the spotlight at home in Colombia.
"Everyone will watch Sunday's game," Falcao said. "I'm proud to play for this very ambitious team. I'm 100 percent committed to Monaco and I dream of winning the title."
Monaco was keen to loan Falcao again during the summer but keeping him has proved a very shrewd move.
So was not selling him to the cash-rich and ambitious Chinese league during the current transfer window.
"It's not easy to turn down such an offer. I've already said no three times, and I don't think it's easy for the club to turn down a lot of money," Falcao said, without mentioning the clubs or sums involved. "But I feel this inside me, it's important for my career and for the club for me to be here."
He has formed an excellent partnership with Valere Germain, an unselfish forward whose touch and intelligent movement opens up space for Falcao to exploit.
"I'd like to score in every game," Falcao said. "That's what I fight for and I don't set myself any limits."
PSG center half Thiago Silva has the difficult task of containing Falcao, who gets into good positions thanks to the excellent timing of his runs and Germain's keen awareness of them.
"Falcao's coming back really strongly after his bad knee injury," Silva said. "He wants to shine again after two seasons without scoring or playing much. I'm happy to see such a strong Monaco side; it's good for French football and for the interests of the league."