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Sports

Monaco face moment of truth against Man City

media Football Soccer - Montpellier v Monaco - French Ligue 1 - Mosson stadium, Montpellier, France - 7/2/2017 - Monaco's Kylian Mbappe Lottin reacts after scoring Reuters/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Monaco head to the Etihad Stadium in the first leg of the football Champions League last 16 on Tuesday for a hotly anticipated match against Manchester City. Leonardo Jardim's men may not have the star appeal of City but that hasn't stopped them dreaming big.

City are favourites to progress but as PSG's 4-0 evisceration of Barcelona last week showed, France's top clubs are no longer content to make up the numbers in the Champions League.

And Monaco are no exception.

They've been rampant this season, powering to the Ligue 1 summit with a tally of 76 goals that is unsurpassed in Europe's five major leagues and Pep Guardiola is keenly aware of the danger they pose.

"They score a lot of goals, they are physical. We have to go to the gym in the next days!" Guardiola joked.

Young hopefuls selected

Coach Leonardo Jardim knows the potential of his men all too well.

He's made it a cornerstone of Monaco's strategy to select the youngest and upcoming players, buying them cheaply and selling them later on to big clubs for big bonuses.

That's what they did that with Anthony Martial, who was sold to Manchester United for a whopping 38 million euros, becoming the most expensive teenager in history.

Rising star Kylian Mbappé hopes to outdo him when he gets to shine in Tuesday's Champions League last 16.

The price of each player automatically goes up 30-40 percent merely because they have played in the Champions League, according to critics.

Real rejected

But Mbappe, 18, says he wants to win the Ligue 1 before departing Monaco, a desire which led to him rejecting the advances of Real Madrid.

Monaco have averaged 2.92 goals per league game, scoring four or more on no fewer than 10 occasions, and have already prevailed on English soil, winning 2-1 at Tottenham Hotspur in the group stage.

Meanwhile, three successive wins have lifted City to second place in the Premier League table, eight points below leaders Chelsea but they still have plent of work to do.
 

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