Pep Guardiola has warned his Manchester City players to note what happened to Barcelona against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League and be aware that Monaco, the top side in France, have “killers in the box” now Radamel Falcao has recovered from dismal spells at Manchester United and Chelsea.
Guardiola believes the renascent striker, with 21 goals in 27 games, will be one of the players endangering City’s progress past the first knockout stage when they face a Monaco team on Tuesday who have scored more times this season than any other top-division side in Europe.
Falcao scored 36 times for Atlético Madrid during Guardiola’s last season as the Barcelona manager and the Colombian’s form for Monaco contrasts starkly with his two years in English football. He managed only four goals in 29 appearances during a season-long arrangement for United when Louis van Gaal was the manager at Old Trafford, and scored once when José Mourinho took him to Chelsea on a similar deal.
“At Atlético Madrid he did an amazing job,” Guardiola said. “After that, he was injured, unfortunately, and you need time to recover. I don’t know what happened with him here but there can be many reasons sometimes why it goes well or not. That is a question for Radamel Falcao. But the way Monaco play now is perfect for him. They attack inside and cross a lot – and he needs that. That’s why he’s back. I am happy for him, he is a good professional and a nice guy, and back at his level scoring goals.”
Monaco, two-times winners against Tottenham Hotspur in the group stages, have scored 76 goals in 26 games in Ligue 1, establishing a three-point lead at the top, and Guardiola believes Barcelona’s 4-0 defeat in the first leg in Paris demonstrates French sides have to be taken seriously.
“For me, Barcelona remains the best team in the world,” Guardiola said. “When that team is at their level, no one can compete – they’re the best – but in 90 minutes anything can happen. In the Champions League, everyone can beat you and say bye-bye. The level, and pressure, is so high there has to be 100% focus. I don’t need a result like PSG-Barcelona to realise how good French football is and how physical they are.”
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