Prince Albert II of Monaco believes the Principality club can match French champions Paris Saint-Germain when Ligue 1’s top two meet on Sunday.
• Johnson: Ibrahimovic sends PSG into final
After their draw at Lorient last weekend and PSG's victory against Bordeaux, Monaco find themselves five points adrift of Laurent Blanc’s men, who sit top of the table.
However, after the heavy investment into the club last summer -- fuelled by the funds of Russian billionaire owner Dmitry Rybolovlev -- the Prince is optimistic Claudio Ranieri's side will provide PSG with the sternest of tests, particularly after claiming a draw at the Parc des Princes earlier in the season.
"It's not a problem they're five points behind, but it would have been a lot better for the intensity of the game if they had been three points back,” he told Monaco’s official website. “It's very important to play well against this Paris Saint-Germain team which scares everyone with the great names they have, with the squad they have. I think we have the weapons to match them, we already proved that in the first game. I'm certain they will stand up and be counted in this big game."
One star name, Radamel Falcao, will be missing on Sunday, however, following his knee ligament injury last month.
With teenager Anthony Martial also on the sidelines, Valere Germain and Emmanuel Riviere are again likely to start up front, although Ranieri can now also call upon Dimitar Berbatov.
The Bulgarian is likely to start on the bench after completing his deadline-day move from Fulham.
Despite some feeling the former Manchester United forward is past his best, Monaco sporting director Vadim Vasilyev has told RMC that Berbatov will prove a useful asset.
"He's not having his best season, that's true. He didn't feel good at Fulham,” he said. “But last season he did score 15 Premier League goals. That says something. He's an experienced player, and we need them. Our young strikers -- Germain, Martial -- need a player with great experience and complementary qualities. That's very important. There is also the economic side, because it was a free transfer."
Victory for the hosts, who are expecting a rare sell-out crowd, would reinvigorate the title race. Defeat, however, would leave them facing a huge challenge in trying to pip PSG to the Ligue 1 title, with just 14 matches left to play.
Vasilyev acknowledged the French champions remain in pole position and insisted his club have slightly less lofty ambitions.
"PSG are the overwhelming favourites for the title. If we have a chance, we'll try,” he said. “It's tough, but there is always a chance in life. As long as it's not over, there's a chance. If we lose against Paris, it'll be very difficult. Anyway, our objective remains to qualify for the Champions League."