Baldé to replace absent Falcao and Jovetic?
By D. Crossan
Ligue 1 Conforama champions Monaco will have to cope without Radamel Falcao, the division’s top scorer, when they travel to Olympique Lyonnais on Friday evening. It could mean a first Monaco start for Keita Baldé.
Only due back from helping Colombia qualify for the World Cup on Thursday night, Friday’s game will come too soon for the 12-goal man. “He played [on Tuesday night], and there was a lot of travelling,” Leonardo Jardim, whose second-placed side are three points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain, told media. “To try and play at Lyon could ‘kill’ him. He won’t play. Anyway, his physical condition won’t allow him to play two matches in 48 hours.”
Portuguese playmaker Rony Lopes said of the skipper’s absence: “The players who are here are ready to play on Friday. It’s down to the coach to decide who will play. Falcao is a great player and he’s our captain, but we’re not dependent on him.”
Baldé = pace
As Montenegro forward Stevan Jovetic is sidelined with a thigh problem sustained on international duty, Keita Baldé is in line to make a full debut for the club he joined from Lazio just before the summer transfer window closed. The Senegalese international is a proven scorer, netting 16 times in Serie A last campaign, and his pace is set to prove a valuable asset to a side that has been lacking that commodity since the likes of Kylian Mbappé and Benjamin Mendy left the club.
Managing the squad after an international window is always a challenge and Jardim conceded: “We’ve got eight players qualified for the World Cup and two are going into the play-offs and that’s very positive, even if it doesn’t make it easy to prepare for our game. The players who stayed behind worked hard over the two weeks and they’re hungry to play. It’s an opportunity for them.”
Fabinho and Marcelo banned
Jardim must make do without Fabinho as the midfielder is suspended. Soualiho Meïté or Kévin N’Doram could come in for the Brazilian. Jardim commented: “We’ve got N’Doram, who already played a few games last season with us, and there’s also Meïté, who has been working hard in training.”
Jardim’s OL counterpart Bruno Genesio knows his position will be assessed by president Jean-Michel Aulas after November 5’s derby against Saint-Etienne. Genesio commented: “I’m under no more pressure than anybody else. Pressure is there every weekend whether we win, lose or draw. We’re always asking questions of ourselves. We always want to improve.”
Mouctar Diakhaby will fill in for the suspended Marcelo at the heart of the defence and Pape Cheikh Diop has overcome an ankle injury, but Clément Grenier (foot) is out. Diakhaby penned a contract extension through to 2022 in the summer and featured for France’s Under-21s against Montenegro on October 5, four days after his first Ligue 1 Conforama start of the season in the 3-3 draw with Angers.
Genesio on Diakhaby: “I have total faith in him”
Diakhaby made a mistake that led to a goal against Montenegro and was replaced by Issa Diop four days later for the game against Luxembourg. Genesio said: “He wasn’t perturbed by his mistake and I thought that was very good. He stayed focused and was even involved in France’s equaliser. I have total faith in him. The proof of that is that he started against Angers. He hasn’t disappeared. He’s part of the rotation in a key position along with Marcelo, Jérémy Morel and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.”
Lyon: (to follow)
Monaco: (to follow)