Manchester City will face Monaco in the last 16 of this season’s Champions League and Club journalist Rob Pollard has taken a closer look at the tie.

“It’s tough. Manchester City is the favourite for this tie,” said Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev immediately after Monday’s draw. “We’re not under pressure, we’re going to play our best football.

“Against Arsenal [in 2014-15], we weren’t favourites, and we caused an upset. It’s up to us to see if we can do it again.”

It certainly won’t be an easy game for City. Monaco are currently second in Ligue 1, one point behind Nice, and are widely considered to be playing the best football in France. 

Here, we take a closer look at what looks likely to be a fascinating last-16 tie. 

Falcao in form 

Radamel Falcao’s two-season stint in English football may have been disappointing – but he has improved drastically this term, scoring 12 goals in 14 games in all competitions, including a hat-trick at the weekend in the 4-0 win away at Bordeaux. 

It’s a huge boost for Monaco. At his best, Falcao was the most feared out-and-out striker in Europe, regularly terrorising defences with his pace and goalscoring instincts.  

A series of knee injuries saw him falter but there are now clear signs of him finding his feet again. 

He is the dangerman and City need to wary of his threat in behind. 

Goals expected 

And it isn’t just Falcao who is scoring. Monaco have managed an incredible 53 league goals already this season, which is more than any other side in Europe and 21 more than any of their Ligue 1 rivals. 

Clearly, they are clicking in the final third.Thomas Lemar has eight in all competitions and Guido Carrillo has weighed in with seven. There are goals coming from all areas of the pitch.

They have a young squad with plenty of pace, capable of producing swift counter-attacking football, and have shown on a number of occasions this term they can dismantle teams who aren’t at their best defensively. 

As sporting director Txiki Begiristain said on Monday, City have been paired with one of Europe’s in-form sides. 

However… February form will be key

The first leg of City’s last-16 tie with Monaco won’t take place until the end of February and by then Monaco’s current form could have changed considerably. 

Indeed, Pep Guardiola, a man who lifted the Champions League trophy twice during his four-year period as Barcelona manager, believes the key to winning Europe’s elite competition is arriving in February in good shape. 

“From my experience in the Champions League, it is how you arrive, how you be, in February,” Guardiola said recently. “Many things are going to happen before then.”

City and Monaco will be looking to fine-tune their sides between now and the knock-out phase beginning to stand their best chance of going through. 

City need to maintain their progress 

Last season’s run to the semi-final of the Champions League was a watershed moment for City. After four seasons of group-stage or last-16 exits, the Blues’ run to the semis felt like a seismic moment in their European development. 

The latter stages of the Champions League is where the club wants to be on a regular basis. Continuing the form of last season and looking to progress even further is high on the list of priorities for the current campaign – and that means finding a way past the best team in France. 

Guardiola, let’s not forget, has made it to at least the semi-final in each of his seven Champions League campaigns as a manager, a record he will be looking to maintain. 

New opponents 

This is the first time City and Monaco have been paired against one another in any competition, making this a historic tie. 

There won’t be many Blues supporters travelling out for the second leg given the capacity of the Stade Louis II is just 18,523 - but those who do will experience one of Europe’s most luxurious destinations.