Paris: Monaco midfielder Bernardo Silva brushed off comparisons between the Ligue 1 title contenders and Europe’s heavyweights ahead of Saturday’s visit of traditional French giants Marseille.
Leonardo Jardim’s side qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League in midweek as winners of Group E following a 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur and find themselves locked in a three-way battle with Nice and Paris Saint-Germain in France.
Monaco have terrorised opposing defences with a European-high 39 league goals, generating genuine belief they can topple reigning champions PSG to land a first top-flight title since 2000.
“We know we’re good but we must keep on working. There are still things to improve. We play very attacking football, we score lots of goals but we can never be perfect,” said Portuguese international Silva.
“To be compared with Real Madrid or Barcelona is great but we’re not at the same level. We can’t get carried away.
“We have a bit more experience this year, but compared to the giants of Europe, we still have a long way to go.”
Monaco have collected 16 of a possible 18 points at the Stade Louis II and could again provisionally replace leaders Nice at the top with victory over Marseille, who secured their first win under new coach Rudi Garcia last weekend.
Unai Emery’s PSG seized control of their Champions League destiny with a 2-2 draw at Arsenal on Wednesday, leaving them as heavy favourites to wrap up first place in Group A.
“We almost played the perfect match,” midfielder Blaise Matuidi told Canal+. “These matches allow us to gauge ourselves and we showed that Paris are a great team.”
Nice dumped out of Europe
The capital club have won five of their last six matches but face a tough assignment on Sunday with a trip to resurgent Lyon, who snapped PSG’s long unbeaten run in the corresponding fixture at Parc OL last season.
Alexandre Lacazette’s second-half winner against Dinamo Zagreb kept alive Lyon’s hopes of prolonging their Champions League adventure and Bruno Genesio’s men are also chasing a fourth league victory on the trot.
“We’re still on course and it’s remarkable because few people thought we’d still be going in this competition,” said Genesio, in the wake of Tuesday’s 1-0 victory in Croatia.
Nice crashed out of the Europa League on Thursday following a 2-0 defeat at Schalke, their poor form on the continent starkly contrasting with their domestic fortunes.
Lucien Favre will be without Mario Balotelli for Sunday’s game at home to Bastia due to a calf problem.
“He will not be there for the next three games in the 10 coming days,” Favre was quoted as saying on the club’s website (www.ogcnice.com).
“For the games that will follow, we don’t know yet.” Balotelli will therefore miss Sunday’s home game against Bastia, the trip to En Avant Guingamp and another home match against Toulouse.
There was more bad news for Nice with Favre confirming that defender Paul Baysse, who has been out for more than a month after starting the first nine league games, will not play until the end of the year because of a knee problem.
Nice lead Monaco and PSG by three points as Bastia head to the Allianz Riviera winless in six matches and above the relegation zone only on goal difference.
Saint-Etienne punched their ticket to the last 32 of the Europa League courtesy of a 0-0 draw against Mainz, but Les Verts have won just once in six league outings ahead of their visit to Angers.
Lille begin life under interim boss Patrick Collot against fellow strugglers Nantes following the departure of Frederic Antonetti.
Guingamp, coached by former PSG manager Antoine Kombouare, put their five-match unbeaten run on the line away to Caen, with Bordeaux also looking to make it six games without defeat at home to Dijon.