Monaco already under pressure early into title defence

October 13, 2017
Monaco goalkeeper Diego Benaglio (left), dives for the ball after Leipzig's Timo Werner (centre), tries to score during the Champions League Group G first leg match between RB Leipzig and AS Monaco FC in Leipzig, Germany, on Wednesday, September 13, 2017. Right are Monaco's Kamil Glik.

PARIS, France (AP):

Defending champion Monaco's trip to Lyon today already feels like a turning point in what is shaping as a difficult season in France. Monaco started brightly with four straight wins, but came down to earth when it lost at Nice 4-0. Monaco dropped more points after conceding a 90th-minute goal in a home draw with Montpellier, allowing unbeaten Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) to open up a three-point lead.

Despite needing a win against Lyon, Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim will rest star striker Radamel Falcao.

Falcao played in a World Cup qualifier for Colombia on Tuesday and was not expected back in Monaco until yesterday. Jardim declined to take a risk on Falcao's health by playing him so soon and did not even put him on the bench.

Falcao has 12 league goals, which is four more than last season's league top scorer Edinson Cavani has for PSG, and six more than PSG's Neymar. Falcao is close to the level that made him one of the world's best strikers when scoring 52 league goals for Atletico Madrid from 2011-13.

Falcao netted 21 league goals for Monaco last season, forming a prolific partnership with teen striker Kylian Mbappe, who has moved to PSG.

Mbappe was one of several key players from last season to be sold over the summer. Playmaker Bernardo Silva and left back Benjamin Mendy joined Manchester City, holding midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko went to Chelsea, and versatile forward Valere Germain signed for Marseille.

This has massively increased the dependency on Falcao, although he has thrived on it with two hat tricks.

"We're not reliant on one player," Monaco attacking midfielder Rony Lopes said. "We have a quality squad."

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