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 By Ian Holyman

Monaco optimistic about Champions League draw

ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop predicts the sleepers and biggest disappointments for this year's group stage.

Monaco have a "good draw" their vice-president claimed after learning the Ligue 1 club's Champions League fate on Thursday.

The principality club have not featured in European club football's premier competition since the 2005-06 edition when they failed to reach the group stage.

Monaco went into Thursday's draw on home soil fearing the worst after being placed among the lowest seeds. However, last season's Ligue 1 runners-up feel they have an opportunity of at least reaching the round of 16 this term after being pitted against Leverkusen, Zenit St. Petersburg and Benfica.

"It's a good draw, we're happy," Vadim Vasilyev told BeIN SPORTS. "It's an evenly-matched group. Each of the four teams has a chance to qualify for the last 16, so we're happy."

After a slow start to the domestic season under new coach Leonardo Jardim, French media report the club are seeking a central defender to reinforce their back line.

There also remains much speculation concerning the future of star striker Radamel Falcao, who has been strongly linked with a switch to Real Madrid.

Vasilyev was less than categorical when asked whether or not the Colombia international would be be part of the club's Champions League push, saying: "I really hope he'll be there."

Falcao told Monaco's official website: "It's a balanced group, all of the teams will have a chance of qualifying. Certain teams are more experienced than us, but we're going to defend our corner with a lot of determination.

"Our club has a great history in the Champions League. We'll do all we can to be worthy of it."

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