Ah, Monaco! Famously described by Somerset Maugham as ‘a sunny place for shady people’, City fans are certainly going to enjoy this away trip, located as it is on the beautiful French Riviera. The home of the team, AS Monaco, is the small but perfectly-formed Stade Louis II stadium (18,523 capacity).
Despite not being a French team, (Monaco is an independent city-state, i.e. a small country) the club plays in the French league and is bankrolled by chairman Dmitry Rybolovlev, Monaco’s own version of Roman Abramovich.
The Russian, (once notoriously charged with ordering a contract killing!) is on the Forbes list of billionaires and is said to have a net worth of 8.5 billion dollars, controlling a 66% stake in the club through his daughter, the rest belonging to Monaco’s ruling family.
Under coach Leonardo Jardim and captained by Portuguese international João Moutinho, Monaco are currently 3 points clear at the top of Ligue 1. They have just beaten Mario Balotelli’s high-flying Nice 3-0 at home, and have only lost once in their last ten games. In their ranks is not only Moutinho but also a newly rejuvenated Radamel Falcao and Bernardo Silva, one of Europe’s hottest and most sought after prospects.
Of interest to blues is the full-back Fabinho, the Brazilian international who has long been linked with City and also on their books is our own former EDS starlet, Rony Lopes, although he has been sent out on loan to Lille.
Former coaches are a familiar list of names and include Arsene Wenger, Claude Puel, Jean Tigana, Didier Deschamps, Francesco Guidolin, and before Jardim, Claudio Ranieri.
Although the team last won Ligue 1 in 2000 under Puel, they will meet us with no inferiority complex. They went one stage further in the Champions league than us, losing in the final in 2004 to Jose Mourinho’s Porto. They have played a total of 93 games in The Champions League/European Cup and 174 times in all European competitions. Compare this to our own figures of 45 and 115 respectively and now tell me who should be favourites! Monaco deserves total respect for their superior European pedigree.
More worrying perhaps is the fact that they have scored 68 (sixty-eight) goals in 23 games played so far with a goal difference of +46! They are Europe’s most dangerous hot-shots, and with our defence, Pep’s got his work cut out to stop them!
Dates for your diary
First leg: Feb 22 (The Etihad Stadium)
Second leg: Mar 16 (Stade Louis II)