Deschamps admits to Monaco's fallibility

Didier Deschamps, the Monaco coach, admits Liverpool will face a weaker side tonight than the one which reached last season's Champions' League final.

Didier Deschamps, the Monaco coach, admits Liverpool will face a weaker side tonight than the one which reached last season's Champions' League final.

The Principality club have seen many of the stars which helped them make it to the final in Gelsenkirchen, where they lost 3-0 to Porto, leave the Stade Louis II over the summer.

Ludovic Giuly has joined Barcelona, Jérôme Rothen has moved to Paris St-Germain, Dado Prso has switched to Rangers while Fernando Morientes, the top scorer in last season's competition, has returned to Real Madrid after his successful loan spell.

If Liverpool were relieved at the thought of not facing Morientes and Prso, the two forwards who did so much to secure Monaco's appearance in last season's final before moving on, then they may discover tonight that their replacements are as imposing.

Mohammed Kallon struck three times in the two-legged qualifier against Slovenian champions Gorica and has continued his hot streak with three goals in Monaco's opening five French league games.

"I'm really happy to have joined Monaco as I am now assured of first-team football, unlike at Inter, as well as Champions' League football," Kallon said recently. "That's very important for me.

"I've joined the best club in France, with the richest contract I have ever signed with a club. I had played in Italy for eight years and I think the time was ripe for me to move away," Kallon added.

Deschamps also lured Javier Saviola - also on loan - but his offensive options have still been considerably weakened.

"Our number-one objective was to qualify for the Champions' League again and not doing it would have been a real failure," Deschamps said. "In all the competitions we start, our aim is to go as far as possible. My team is talented and our duty is to live up the expectations which resulted from our performance last year.

"The players who stayed will have the experience and will know what to expect in terms of determination and commitment. The new ones are used to high-level matches and came to our club to participate in such competitions as the Champions' League.

"But it's hard to compare last year's team with the one we have this campaign. They are very different. The players are not the same anymore, neither is the organisation. I have no certainties and we need to find the right balance."

Saviola misses out on the trip through suspension, as do the injured Javier Chevanton and Shabani Nonda.

"We are weakened by injuries and suspension which means we won't have all the weapons necessary to challenge a team like Liverpool," Deschamps added. "At least I won't have to think too much about who to choose.

"I don't know whether my team is really ready to play in the Champions' League but it could certainly be better. We have displayed good things in Ligue 1 so far but we have no continuity over 90 minutes.

"The secret for success will be the same as last year, the players will have to raise their level all together."

Monaco's run last year has also made opponents aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Deschamps admitted: "People don't wonder anymore who Monaco are. We've been considered differently since we eliminated Real Madrid and Chelsea.

"Maybe we inspire more respect but this is not an advantage. And we will not consider ourselves favourites. Last year's experience is important but we must remember how we reached that level.

"For the moment we are only guaranteed to play the minimum in the competition, which is six matches. Of course we hope for more and the first match will be crucial."

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