Monaco's Riviere Must Hit Top Form To Prolong Title Push
First take on second in Ligue 1, as high-spending Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco go to war in a top-of-the-table clash.
Monaco, who were only promoted back to Ligue 1 last season after winning the second division, have forced their way into the promotion race and Champions League qualification after spending big to regain top-flight status, following relegation in 2011.
Monaco sit five points behind table-toppers PSG, and without injured striker Radamel Falcao for the remainder of the season, the pressure is on team-mate Emmanuel Riviere to add to his nine goals this term.
The 23-year-old striker remains as Monaco's top scorer following Falcao's World Cup-ruining injury, and he will be hoping that a run of goals could boost his chances of making France's World Cup squad, after spending the last nine years in the French youth set-up.
However, the goal trail hasn't slowed up for the champions, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani boasting an incredible 43 goals between them this season.
Form dictates a close match at Stade Louis II, with Monaco and PSG unbeaten in the league for four games and seven games respectively.
These two sides last met on 22 Sept, where both shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw with Ibrahimovic and Falcao netting.
Who will win?
When: Sunday, 9. Feb
Where: Stade Louis II, Fontvieille, Monaco
Time (U.S): 3 p.m. ET
Time: (U.K): 8 p.m. GMT
Watch: (U.S): BeIN Sports Play
Watch: (U.K): BT Sport 1
Live Stream: Not Available
Odds (via SkyBet): Monaco (9/4), Draw (11/5), Paris St Germain (6/5)
Top Storyline: Can Verratti make it to the top?
Arriving in Paris at the tender age of just 19, Marco Verratti already had four years in Italy's second tier with Pescara that had primed the midfielder for life in the fast lane.
And since joining PSG on a five-year contract in 2012, the 21-year-old has won plenty of admirers at Parc de Princes.
Striker and team-mate, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, has hailed the youngster's ability to turn a match on its head and, at such a young age, lauded his pairing with fellow midfielder Thiago Motta.
Speaking with Ligue1.com, Ibrahimovic paid tribute to French football's raw talent:
When you have a Verratti in your team, it gives everyone confidence for the way we're playing and especially the way they are playing, him and Thiago Motta. I have never seen a connection like this between two players in the midfield.
And that same vision has been portrayed by Motta, who paid tribute to the way that Verratti plays the beautiful game:
We have a very good midfield with Marco who possesses one of the best techniques in the world. I've already said everything there is to say about Marco, he's a great player. I love the way he sees football because he shares the same vision of the game as me.
Paris St Germain assistant coach Claude Makelele also paid tribute to Verratti's ability, telling BeIN Sport's Ligue 1 Show that he knew little of the holding midfielder when he first joined the club:
I didn't know too much about him when he joined, but right from the first training session, I could see he had something special. I think he can become one of the best in the world.
I don't think anyone should try and change him. His innocence is a quality as well. If we change his playing style, he won't be as good. You have to let him mature, he's learning all the time and he'll get wiser. The way he plays, he's the ideal modern-day central midfielder and will become one of the best in the world.
Verratti looks set to line-up against Monaco, alongside Motta as the side look to widen the gap at the top of the table; hoping that the youngster's resilience in midfield can perfectly complement the goal-scoring ability of PSG's illustriously-expensive front pair.
Prediction: Monaco 1-3 Paris St Germain