Monaco are top of Ligue 1 at the moment, will this team be a different prospect to the Monaco we played in the Europa League last season?
Damien: “Monaco is making headway this season. It won’t be the same Monaco that Tottenham played in the Europa League last season. It’s a very different team. You can feel this team is confident and it’s a team that beat Paris Saint Germain in Ligue 1, no team has managed to beat PSG at the start of the season for two or three years. You can feel a confident team now and that wasn’t the case in the Europa League. Monaco were down at that stage with injured players, but that’s not the case this time. I still think Tottenham are favourites, they are at home, even if it’s at Wembley and Tottenham have more strength in depth in their squad.”
Tell us about the squad - who should we look out for?
Damien: “You can see a team with young players like Sidebe, like Fabinho, like Bakayoko – a very talented player in midfield. I know English clubs were interested in him this summer but Monaco didn’t want to let him go and when you see him play this season, you can understand why. It is a mix of young, talented players and players with more experience like the goalkeeper, Subasic, one of the best goalkeepers in France, maybe the best in Ligue 1. You have Valerie Germain, who I don’t think could play in England because he’s too small, but could play somewhere like Spain because he is very gifted, very fast with good flair. So it’s a mix, young players, mid-age players like Germain and experienced players like Moutinho and Falcao, who will be fit. If I would pick a player to look out for, I would say Bakayoko. He’s very confident. I watched him against PSG and he had an amazing game. He won a lot of balls and was impressive in his passing range, difficult passes that always took the team forward. After that, Germain, even if you don’t see him for 25 or 30 minutes, he could then score. He’s a real striker.”
What’s the latest on Radamel Falcao, a striker we all know from his time at Chelsea and United…
Damien: “I’m not sure Falcao will start the game, I think he will be substitute. He played 20 or 25 minutes in the last game against Lille (on Saturday) but he had gone four weeks without playing. It’s a pity because when he played against Fenerbahce (in Champions League qualifying at the start of the season) he did very well. I’m not sure it’s the same Falcao who played for Chelsea or United but you feel he wants to restart his career and Monaco is the perfect place for that, there isn’t as much pressure and coach Jardim is confident in him.
How do you think Monaco will approach this game?
Damien: “I can imagine it will be a defensive style at Wembley. It’s an away game, so Monaco won’t take the game to Tottenham. They will use the counter-attack. Monaco like a possession game but against teams like Tottenham, against Paris Saint Germain or teams like Arsenal or Juventus, they look to the counter-attack. Jardim is not a risk-taking coach and he won’t take risks at Wembley. Tottenham will have a lot of the ball but will have to be careful of the counter-attack.”
Finally, what is the view of Spurs in France at the moment?
Damien: “There are a lot of fans of Tottenham in France. You can see players like Gareth Bale and Harry Kane that have become stars at Tottenham and there have been a lot of French players there as well. Of course, there is also a lot of respect for Hugo Lloris and a lot of respect for Tottenham as a club. It has been very difficult for French teams to beat Tottenham. Look at the past, and you have a lot of victories against French clubs (we’ve only lost one of eight legs over four ties against French teams in Europe, but went out to Lyon on away goals in 1967) so there is a lot of respect for the club. I am certain you will make it through to the last rounds of the Champions League – you deserve it!”