Monaco boss Claudio Ranieri has given his biggest indication on his expectations of his club's French Ligue 1 title ambitions by saying Paris Saint-Germain "are on another level".
His second-placed team take on the leaders at the Stade Louis II tomorrow. Despite the obvious significance of the match in the story of the Ligue 1 season, with Monaco currently five points behind PSG, the former Chelsea manager claims he struggles to see how his team can compete with last season's champions.
"It's a great match to play, a good chance to gauge where we stand. The result is almost secondary," Ranieri said. "What is important to me is to gain in experience against a great team. We'll give our all for victory, but it's important to tell the truth: PSG are on another level. We are still a work in progress, PSG are the finished article.
"It's one thing to have positive thoughts, to want to win, but it's important to be realists too. They can win playing at 80 per cent. We have to be at 120 per cent to win."
Ranieri may be playing mind games, and this weekend he will have Dimitar Berbatov, the Bulgarian striker formerly of Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, in his matchday squad. Berbatov joined Monaco from Fulham at the end of January, signing until the end of the season in the wake of Radamel Falcao being ruled out for the rest of the campaign with a knee injury.
Although Berbatov has appeared past his prime in recent seasons, Ranieri is optimistic he can make a big impression in the French league. "Dimitar Berbatov is ready, he will have a role to play on Sunday," Ranieri said. "He's a great champion."
Monaco eyebrows may have been raised by Zlatan Ibrahimovic missing training at PSG on Friday morning, but it soon emerged that he should be fit to play on Sunday. PSG head coach Laurent Blanc said: "Ibrahimovic has back problems, it shouldn't last long. He will be there on Sunday against Monaco."
Blanc added: "Monaco have said that Paris are favourites for the match. Me, I'm saying nothing, you will see on Sunday but we have the intention to win. A match against Monaco is a prestigious game. But above all it's a match to win which is worth three points. They took a point off us at home. I hope it will be a great game."