Monaco stand on the brink of greatness - maybe only exhaustion can stop them from making history on three fronts

Jerome Pugmire
The Independent
Monaco have been on a remarkable run all the way to the Champions League final four: Getty
Monaco have been on a remarkable run all the way to the Champions League final four: Getty

"It's not easy to play the Champions League and to try and win the league at the same time," Leonardo Jardim said. "We're the team that's playing the most in Europe."

He's not wrong either. After dispatching Borussia Dortmund 6-3 on aggregate over two legs Monaco are in the Champions League final four. A goal-filled Ligue 1 campaign has them on top their too while they are in the semi-finals of the French Cup as well.

As well as the most overworked Jardim's young stars may well be Europe's best to watch too. Valere Germain's tie-sealing goal against Dortmund was Monaco's 141st of the season. The man who scored their first way back in July knows more than most that this journey back to Europe's top table comes straight out of left field.

"At the start of the season not many people would have thought the team would do this well, or that I would," said Falcao, who has fought back from disappointing loan spells with Manchester United and Chelsea following a serious knee injury. "I feel appreciated and supported by the club and by the players. My family is settled and this helps me play better."

Monaco lead defending champions PSG on goal difference in the league, having played one game less, and face a hectic run-in. That starts with a difficult trip to Lyon on Sunday, followed by a French Cup semifinal against PSG three days later in Paris.

Those games could go a long way to shaping Monaco's season.

Manager Jardim isn't complaining, however.

"At this level you can't impose limits on the players. Perhaps the French Cup is the third choice, but for the other two we'll push to our limits," he said. "Because it's not just our Champions League but the Champions League of France. The French clubs aren't used to reaching this level, so we are also representing France."

The last French side to reach the Champions League semi-finals was Lyon in 2010, while Marseille are the only French side to win it back in 1993.

Intentionally or not, Jardim sent a stinging reminder to PSG of its shortcomings in Europe. After being eliminated in the quarterfinals for the previous four seasons, PSG went out in the last 16 this time after being crushed 6-1 by Barcelona in the second leg.

Kylian Mbappe celebrates opening the scoring with Falcao (Getty)
Kylian Mbappe celebrates opening the scoring with Falcao (Getty)

Monaco has a minimum of nine games left, and a maximum of 11 should it reach the Champions League and French Cup finals.

"It makes for a lot of games, which is very hard," Jardim said. "If we had gone out in the quarterfinals (against Dortmund) we'd be fresh to prepare all the (other) games, but we're very ambitious and I don't want the mentality of the players to change."

The players are ready to take up the challenge.

Falcao has 27 in a resurgent season (Getty)
Falcao has 27 in a resurgent season (Getty)

"We're competitors and we want to be involved in every competition. We were one of the first sides in the competition and now we're in the (Champions League) semifinals, it's something to savor," left back Benjamin Mendy said.

Monaco will have one day more to prepare than Lyon, who was facing a tough Europa League quarterfinal return leg against Besiktas in Istanbul on Thursday night. Perhaps exhaustion is the only thing that can stop them now.

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