On Wednesday night in a Round of 32 Coupe de France game, AS Monaco took on fourth division side Mont d’Or Azergues. Monaco forward Radamel Falcao went down in the 40th minute after a challenge from defender Soner Ertek. Upon seeing how Falcao went down, the worst was feared and his chances to play in the 2014 World Cup this summer put in jeopardy. Here on Thursday, everyone’s worst fears were confirmed as it has been reported that Falcao will be missing the World Cup with a torn ACL in his left knee.
Now you will be reading a lot about what the loss means for Colombia and their chances of a long run during the tournament or what it means for AS Monaco in their quest to challenge for the Ligue 1 title, but one thing that I have heard very little from about anyone is why was Falcao even playing in this midweek game?
Right after the game in his postgame press conference, Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri came out and lambasted the referee for not protecting his players in this game given that it was a top division side going up against a semi-professional team. By Ranieri doing this he has done the ultimate cowardly thing that a coach can do in my opinion which is deflect attention away from his error in judgement and place it on the referee. Frankly, Ranieri could have prevented what happened to Falcao had he not played him in this game which should have been the case.
Whenever you have these type of cup competitions where a first division team plays against a semi-professional team at the home stadium of the semi-professional team, it is understood that teams like Monaco will be playing on fields which are not as well maintained and going up against players whose skill level and timing are not the best. Therefore, you run the risk of putting your star players in some danger, especially a star forward when you as the coach decide to play him as a starter. Sure enough, all these elements came together and created the perfect storm that led to Falcao sustaining his torn knee ligament and as a result missing out on playing the World Cup.
I’m not sure if this point was made or stated by Ranieri, but Falcao has missed some time through injury this season so I am guessing Ranieri wanted to give him some match fitness. That said, as the coach of a team like Monaco, he must be smarter in deciding when and what type of game to give Falcao said match fitness and this was not the place. Ranieri would have been better off playing young Emmanuel Riviere from the beginning.
Instead we now find ourselves in a situation where Ranieri has hurt his team’s chances of winning the league title by playing Falcao in a game he did not have to play him in given the circumstances at hand. Therefore, it goes without saying that it was the ‘Tinker Man’ himself who is solely to blame for Falcao’s injury and for him missing the chance to play in the 2014 World Cup all because he was risked in a cup game against a team Monaco would have beaten without Falcao playing.