Captain Ludovic Giuly insists AS Monaco FC will adopt an attacking approach against Chelsea FC at Stamford Bridge tonight as they look to book their place in the UEFA Champions League final.
Didier Deschamps' team are the leading scorers in this season's competition with 25 goals in eleven games, and hold a 3-1 lead from the first leg. Giuly, who has registered four of those goals, feels that now would be the wrong time to go on the defensive. "Turning up with the intention of merely trying to protect our lead would be the worst thing we could do," he told uefa.com. "We've got this far because we've been positive and attacked our opponents. It would be crazy to change now."
The exciting and often swashbuckling football that Monaco have produced has stemmed from the excellent wing play of Giuly and Jérôme Rothen and the free-scoring exploits of Fernando Morientes and Dado Pršo, who top the Champions League scoring charts with eight and seven strikes respectively. The talented quartet could be broken up, however, after Pršo and Rothen picked up injuries in the 2-1 win against OGC Nice on Friday.
"It's a blow because we don't have the sort of squad that Chelsea have," Giuly said. "The medical staff are working round the clock to get Dado and Jérôme fit." Yet the French international believes Monaco would pose a threat even without the injured pair, saying: "We do have other attacking options - notably Jaroslav Plašil, Shabani Nonda and Shedi Adebayor.
"It's up to the manager to decide who to go for but I think he'll chose an attack-minded team because we have to get a goal in London. If we don't, the tie could become very close, very quickly."
Hailed as heroes
While Chelsea's first-leg display received heavy criticism in England, the Monaco players have been hailed as heroes in their homeland. Giuly, though, does not believe his side have received the credit they deserve outside France. "People are saying Chelsea didn't play well, or that they underestimated us and that is why we won. I can't agree with that," said the midfield player.
"When you have already beaten the likes of [RC] Deportivo [La Coruña] and Real [Madrid CF], teams don't take you lightly. Chelsea knew all about us and they were well prepared. They were very solid, they scored an away goal, and for much of the game it looked like their plan was going to work. The criticism they received is unfair and perhaps does not do us justice."
The biggest fear in France is that Monaco, who have seen a ten-point lead at the top of Ligue 1 turn into a two-point deficit in recent months, could be running out of steam at the wrong time. But Giuly insisted: "
We've got plenty left in our legs and we showed that at Nice. We knew we had to win to stay in the title race and the team showed its character once again."
Giuly, who scored Monaco's winner in Nice, knows they will have to demonstrate their mental and physical strength once more tonight. "We're taking nothing for granted," said the 27-year-old. "It's going to be very hard in front of their fans and I'd say the tie is still 50-50. But if we play with the same spirit and application that we showed in the first leg, I believe we can do it."
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