Paris (AFP) – Mario Balotelli says Manchester City’s mid-week slayers Monaco have the stars and the spirit to edge a reeling Paris Saint-Germain in a tight French title race.
With nine games to go it is a three-way tussle between Balotelli’s Nice, PSG and Monaco, with the latter underlining their rich promise by ejecting Pep Guardiola’s City in the Champions League last 16.
Free-scoring Monaco are top with 68 points, with PSG on 65 points and Nice 63 points.
Monaco travel north to Caen on Sunday, the same day PSG face a showdown with fourth-placed Lyon in Paris.
“Paris Saint-Germain have phenomenal players but no team, while Monaco have one phenomenal player in Falcao and then a strong group with great team spirit,” Italian striker Balotelli told RMC sport radio on Wednesday.
His Nice team, who go to Nantes on Saturday, were the league pacesetters and even though they have fallen to third Balotelli predicts a great future.
“This is a young side, even younger than me, and next season will be a special one,” said the former Milan, Manchester City and Liverpool striker, 26, whose side should at least qualify for the Champions League next season.
Balotelli will sit out the last game of his latest suspension.
His dig at PSG could prove prophetic as the capital club face a Lyon side in a real purple patch at the Parc des Princes.
Alexandre Lacazette failed to make Didier Deschamps’ France squad this week but he has 22 league goals this season.
PSG are still trying to regalvanise themselves after a gut-wrenching collapse at Barcelona a week ago sent a shockwave through the club.
“The Parisian” daily newspaper asked Thursday if it was time to strip Thiago Silva of the captaincy and hand it to Edinson Cavani, their stand-out player so far this season with 38 goals in 38 games.
Monaco have scored an astronomical 84 goals in the league with 18-year-old prodigy Kylian Mbappe notching 11 in his last 11, earning a call-up for France.
“Quality and talent don’t have an age,” Deschamps said. “I find Kylian very mature.
“His strength is his serenity, his calmness when one-on-one with a goalkeeper. For a youngster of his age, it’s very rare.”
All times GMT
Metz v Bastia (1800), Lille v Marseille (1945)
Nantes v Nice (1500), Angers v Guingamp, Bordeaux v Montpellier, Nancy v Lorient, Toulouse v Rennes (2000)
Caen v Monaco (1400), Dijon v St Etienne (1600), PSG v Lyon (2000)