Jardim backs Ronaldo to beat Griezmann in Ballon d'Or battle

Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim's loyalties remain with Cristiano Ronaldo as he prepares to face Ballon d'Or hopeful Antoine Griezmann.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann share the stage at an awards ceremony.   -  Getty Images

Leonardo Jardim declared his support for Cristiano Ronaldo in the Ballon d'Or race ahead of Monaco's meeting with Antoine Griezmann and Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.

Perennial contender and current holder Ronaldo is expected to face strong competition from Atleti star Griezmann and former Real Madrid team-mate Luka Modric.

The latter pair excelled at the World Cup, with Griezmann scoring four goals to help France to glory.

Monaco defender Benjamin Henrichs could be tasked with marking the 27-year-old on Tuesday and suggested the forward "deserves" the award following his performances over the 12 months.

But former Sporting boss Jardim believes Ronaldo – who opened his account for Juventus on Sunday, scoring twice in a 2-1 victory over Sassuolo – should retain his crown.

"I like Griezmann a lot, Modric too, but I'm Portuguese when I think of Ronaldo for the win," he told reporters in a pre-match news conference.

Containing Griezmann, Diego Costa and former Monaco player Thomas Lemar looms as a difficult prospect for a Monaco side low on confidence.

It has collected just five points from as many matches in Ligue 1 and Jardim admitted his team, though Champions League semifinalist as recently as 2017, is still a work in progress.

"People who know football know the project of Monaco," he said. "It takes a little time to reach a good level. We are working to change the situation, to grow as quickly as possible.

"Last season we did not manage to perform well [in the Champions League]. I hope we will be more successful this year.

"We have the ambition to play in the best competitions and to finish on the podium in the league."

Monaco's other opponents in a tough Group A are Borussia Dortmund and Club Brugge, who meet in Belgium on Tuesday.