Monaco bounced back from a 4-0 demolition at the hands of Mario Balotelli and Nice midweek to win 2-1 over Angers and remain in second after being nudged out of first by their aforementioned Côte d'Azur neighbors. Coming off of their win over Spurs in the first round of Champions League matches, a similar result against Bayer would have them comfortably atop Group E. Their Bundesliga opponents grabbed a momentum-boosting win over the weekend, coming from behind twice to beat Mainz with an injury time winner to complete the hat trick for Chicharito. Bayer now sit in 10th and an away result against Monaco would help ease the pressure on manager Roger Schmidt, who oversees a squad that really should be higher up the table. A return to form for Chicharito could be exactly what he needs.
Runners-up in the Champions League in 1994, the principality’s club spent last season in the Europa league while finishing third in Ligue 1. Monaco struggled to find a reliable threat up top last season with Bernardo Silva and Thomas Lemar joint top scorers in the league with five goals apiece. To that end, Falcao is back from his disappointing loans in the Premier League with hopes to revive his career. Otherwise, Les Rouges et Blancs will look to the Portuguese duo of João Moutinho and the aforementioned Silva to control matches and create chances. They’ll face a difficult, but not impossible group which will include a trip to Moscow and matchups against Spurs and Bayer Leverkusen.
Bayer are a mainstay in the top four of the Bundesliga, but have not made a deep run into the Champions League since they were runners-up in 2002. While a return to those heights is too ambitious for this squad, they are still dangerous enough to be playing late into the spring. Led by a rejuvenated Chicharito, who scored five goals in six Champions League appearances last year, and backed by a defense who only allowed 40 goals in the Bundesliga last season, this is a squad with the ability to take down some giants.
The versatile midfielder has made nearly 100 appearances for both the Portuguese national team and Monaco.
Scored 11 goals in 19 appearances in his last season at Monaco, before being injured in halfway through the season.
The former Manchester United striker's career was revived upon his arrival at Bayer, where he scored 26 goals in his first season.
A lethal free kick specialist, just watch the highlight video above.