Ligue 1: Second-placed Monaco host table-toppers PSG on Sunday
Monaco captain Eric Abidal believes shackling Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the key to stopping Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday.
Last Updated: 07/02/14 8:49pm
Abidal and Ibrahimovic were briefly team-mates at Barcelona, and the man entrusted by Claudio Ranieri with skippering last season's Ligue 2 champions in the French top flight knows what a threat the Swedish striker poses.
"Zlatan Ibrahimovic has shown quality at every club he has played for," Abidal said. "I know him well, and when he is in form his team is in form.
"We know that he is very difficult to stop, it's up to us to be intelligent enough to stop him shining."
Monaco trail their weekend visitors by five points heading into what could be a critical fixture in terms of resolving the destination of the title.
And while head coach Ranieri has been playing down Monaco's prospects, by insisting PSG have a stronger, more mature set-up after winning the 2012/13 Ligue 1 championship, Abidal believes victory for the hosts at the Stade Louis II is an achievable target.
"Paris remain the favourites for the title. As far as we're concerned we are still on course for our target of qualifying for the Champions League. We have to approach the match without pressure and play a very high level game," said the former France defender in Friday's press conference, according to Monaco's website.
"We're going to try to make them doubt themselves by creating chances and being there in the tackles. There's going to be a great battle in midfield, true combat for ball possession.
"The match falls at a good time. The 'Monaco Ultras' (hardcore fans) are celebrating their 20-year anniversary, and we'd love to give them a beautiful present. We'd also like to win this match and dedicate it to Falcao."
Striker Radamel Falcao is almost certain to miss the rest of Monaco's season due to the knee ligament injury he sustained last month. In his continuing absence, new recruit Dimitar Berbatov could make his debut in attack after joining from Fulham.
When fifth-placed Marseille play mid-table Bastia on Saturday, it will be a special occasion for the Corsican club's striker Djibril Cisse.
Cisse played for Marseille from 2006 to 2008, and the former France international said of this weekend's assignment: "It's a special match. I'm going back to my last French club where I spent a season and a half. I had some good times there. It's the club in my heart that I always supported."
Quoted on Marseille's website, Cisse added: "For an hour and a half, I'm going to forget about about that and Marseille will become a team that we have to beat."
Also on Saturday, Rennes make the long trek to bottom-of-the-table Ajaccio, Reims head to Guingamp, Champions League hopefuls Lille have home advantage against Sochaux, Montpellier play Evian and Valenciennes tackle Nice.
Before the frontrunners take centre stage on Sunday evening, the day sees two further matches as Nantes play Lyon and Bordeaux take on Lorient.