Monaco will begin their run of fixtures without Radamel Falcao when they host Marseille on Sunday. The Colombian's season—and possibly World Cup—appeared to be over when he suffered damage to his ACL in the win over Chasselay Monts d'Or Azergues in the Coupe de France.
|Monaco vs. Marseille: Sunday, January 26|
|Time (GMT)||Home Side||Away Side||TV Coverage||Live Stream|
|20:00||Monaco||Marseille||BT Sport 1||BT Sport Online Player|
Falcao is refusing to give up on the World Cup, however. In a tweet that was translated by BBC Sport, the striker outlined that Brazil remains in his plans: "I'm not going to deny my sadness is huge, my heart is broken. But I'm clinging to the smallest hope, and that's enough to think that my World Cup dream is still alive."
Nevertheless, that will be of scant comfort to Monaco, as Falcao has scored nine goals in 17 games and is the club's top scorer. If Paris St.-Germain triumph over Guingamp, Monaco will be eight points behind their rivals.
Monaco came away from Marseille with a victory in September, but Falcao was responsible for one of their two goals. They will need to find a way to win without him if they are to keep pace with PSG.
Marseille are unbeaten in their past three league games and will feel better about their chances without Falcao in the lineup. As much as they will dislike doing PSG a favour, they will be doing everything they can to get a win in the principality.
However, it would be an immense disservice to say that Monaco are nothing without their top scorer. Emmanuel Riviere has eight goals from 11 starts this year and is quite capable of carrying the attack.
There has been some talk of Riviere moving away from Monaco in the transfer window, but that will surely diminish with the loss of Falcao. Riviere netted twice in the Coupe de France victory, and his side will be relying on that sort of finishing on Sunday.
Monaco's €15 million asset Lucas Ocampos, too, can provide adequate firepower to lift his side. It's worth bearing in mind that when Falcao was absent for four games across November and December, Monaco won all of them.
Marseille have had their own problems, with caretaker head coach Jose Anigo cancelling a press conference this week after graffiti appeared outside the club's training ground that referenced the murder of his son, Adrien, last September.
Sky Sports reported that the graffiti stated "why Adri and not Jose?," which was understandably condemned by both club and coach in a joint statement:
...Jose Anigo has suffered odious suggestions on a wall of the Robert Louis-Dreyfus centre this Friday morning. It's not the sporting personality who is attacked, but the man. The father of the family is bruised and shocked by the violence of the words.
As a consequence, being profoundly affected and for the reasons that everyone will understand, Jose Anigo is not in a state to present himself at a press conference this afternoon.
While Anigo awaits the arrest of the perpetrators, his side will be looking to get a win and climb within 10 points of Monaco with a game in hand. Andre-Pierre Gignac scored a ridiculous goal in the 5-4 Coupe de France loss against Nice, and Gignac is Marseille's top scorer with nine this year.
Monaco remain the favourites, but don't underestimate Marseille off the back of a difficult week.