Monaco (AFP) – Leonardo Jardim is drawing inspiration from Didier Deschamps’ Monaco side that made an unlikely run to the 2004 Champions League final as his team attempt to reverse a 5-3 deficit against Manchester City in the last 16.
Barcelona’s heroics against Paris Saint-Germain last week saw them become the first team to recover from four goals down in the competition and showed all is not lost for Monaco ahead of the return at the Stade Louis II on Wednesday.
But they know the task is a tall order with City hiring Pep Guardiola to elevate the Premier League club to the ranks of Europe’s elite having reached the semi-finals under predecessor Manuel Pellegrini last season.
“It will be difficult,” admitted Jardim. “One thing is sure, for us to qualify in our current state, we’ll need to score three goals. Two will not be enough. We will play with this target.”
Jardim singled out Monaco’s dramatic quarter-final victory over Real Madrid 13 years ago as the reference point for his players.
Beaten 4-2 in Spain in the first leg of that season’s last eight Monaco looked doomed when Real grabbed the lead in the principality, but two goals from Ludovic Giuly and one from on-loan Madrid striker Fernando Morientes capped a remarkable turnaround.
And like Deschamps, who on that famous night warned his players they would concede “one goal and perhaps the first of the match”, Jardim wants his team to stick to the game plan should a similar scenario arise.
“We’re ahead in the league, through to the League Cup final, in the French Cup quarters, everyone is in a good frame of mind,” Jardim said following Saturday’s 2-1 win over Bordeaux.
“We were able to score three goals in the first leg. We can do it again, we score a lot,” reasoned full-back Benjamin Mendy, who is reportedly a target for City in the summer.
Monaco are chasing a first French title since 2000, but despite their compelling domestic form there is comparatively little pressure on the Ligue 1 leaders whereas City have earmarked the competition as a top priority.
“All of Europe is going to see it. But we’re there on all fronts. We have lots of competitions to win,” said Polish defender Kamil Glik, who will miss the second leg through suspension.
Jardim is clear in his beliefs though.
“We can pull off a comeback as well. There is just a difference of two goals,” he insisted.
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