MX23RW : Wednesday, December 12 19:38:14
May 9, 2017 at 7.45pm UK at ​Juventus Stadium
Attendance: 40,244
Mandzukic (33'), Alves (44')
FT(HT: 2-0)
Mbappe (69')

Preview: Juventus vs. AS Monaco

Sports Mole previews Tuesday's Champions League semi-final second leg between Juventus and AS Monaco, with the Italian hosts holding a 2-0 aggregate lead.

Juventus are overwhelming favourites to reach a second Champions League final in the space of three years when they welcome AS Monaco to Turin for the second leg of their semi-final on Tuesday night.

The Italian giants boast a 2-0 aggregate lead as Gonzalo Higuain's brace in Monaco last week put his side in complete control of the tie, and the Ligue 1 leaders must now pull off an unprecedented comeback if they are to reach the final for just a second time.


Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri smiles during the UEFA Champions League group stage match between Juventus and Manchester City FC at Juventus Arena on November 25, 2015© Getty Images

It says plenty for the quality throughout this Juventus team that many regard them as favourites to go all the way and lift the Champions League trophy this season, despite the presence of 11-time and defending champions Real Madrid still in the competition.

The first leg of this tie was given the age-old billing of the unstoppable force versus the immovable object - Monaco's free-scoring attack, the most prolific in Europe, against Juve's battle-hardened defence, the meanest in this season's competition having conceded just two goals.

In the end it was barely a contest. On the few occasions that Monaco managed to breach the Juve wall of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli, Gianluigi Buffon was there to deny them as the Italian quartet chalked up a sixth consecutive Champions League clean sheet - two of which came against Barcelona's sensational front three.

Count Dani Alves among that defensive unit if you will, but the Brazilian was more of an attacking force at the Stade Louis II and set up both of Higuain's goals with a pair of exquisite assists.

Higuain is arguably the closest this Juventus side have to a star man in the ilk of Cristiano Ronaldo, Antoine Griezmann or Lionel Messi, and the Argentine came to his side's rescue again at the weekend with a late equaliser against Torino in the Turin derby.

Higuain now has 32 goals for the season across all competitions - the first player to reach that tally for Juve since David Trezeguet in 2002 - and he is now just five short of the club's all-time single season scoring record of 37, held by Felice Borel since 1934.

The striker could have six games to get those five goals too, with three more Serie A outings to come in addition to the Coppa Italia final and what looks likely to be two more games in the Champions League.

The treble is still on for the Bianconeri, then, although Saturday's draw with Torino made them wait for the Serie A title until at least Sunday, when they take on second-placed Roma at the Stadio Olimpico.

Torino also halted an incredible run of 33 consecutive Serie A home wins for Juventus, becoming the first visiting team to take league points off the Old Lady since September 2015, but Juve's home form remains a daunting prospect for Monaco.

Massimiliano Allegri's side are unbeaten in their last 22 European home games stretching back to April 2013, keeping clean sheets in seven of their last nine including their impressive 3-0 win over Barcelona in the quarter-finals.

Juve have also won the home leg in all but two of their previous 11 European Cup semi-finals and have only twice lost at home following an away victory in a two-legged European tie. On both occasions Juve have still gone on to progress, though, with a perfect 100% record of qualifying after winning the away first leg in European competition - something they have achieved 37 times.

If any more good omens were needed for the Old Lady, Juve have won all 11 of their previous two-legged ties against French opposition and on the two occasions where they have gone all the way to lift this trophy, they beat a Ligue 1 side in the semi-finals.

Two European crowns does not seem like enough for a club of Juve's stature, but not many will be backing against them to add a third title in Cardiff this season considering how impressive they have been throughout the campaign.

Recent form: WWWWDW
Recent form (all competitions): WDWDWD


AS Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim watches on during his side's Champions League last 16 first leg with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on February 21, 2017© SilverHub

If this is the stage where Monaco's Champions League journey comes to an end, then at least has been a memorable ride for France's entertainers.

Just a few years ago Leonardo Jardim's side were heavily criticised for being too defensive and negative, scoring just 51 goals in the 2014-15 Ligue 1 season and 57 the following year.

This season, however, only Barcelona have outscored them in Europe's top five leagues, with Saturday's 3-0 win over Nancy taking them on to 98 league goals for the campaign with three games still to play - not to mention leaving them effectively two wins short of a first league title since 2000.

Monaco are already guaranteed a place in next season's Champions League group stage, but if they are to replicate this season's invigorating performances both at home and abroad then they will first need to fend off interest in the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Bernardo Silva.

It is a group of players which has already beaten the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund this term, but the challenge of Juventus looks to be a step too far for now and if Monaco are to progress then they will need to become the first team to ever overturn a two-goal first-leg home defeat in the Champions League.

Last week's encounter was only the second time Monaco have failed to score in this season's competition, and they have been eliminated from all five of their previous European matches in which they lost the home first leg - most recently crashing out at the hands of Leeds United in the 1995-96 UEFA Cup first round.

Monaco actually won the away second leg of that tie, but that is the only time they have managed that following a home first-leg defeat and, when it comes to the semi-finals of this competition, they are winless in three attempts away from home - with two defeats coming in Italy.

Indeed, their overall record on these shores will not inspire confidence for the club's fans, with no wins and six defeats from their seven previous visits, scoring just two goals and conceding 14 in that time.

Considering Monaco need at least two goals on Tuesday night alone to stand any chance of progressing, it looks as though they are heading for a fifth European semi-final defeat at the hands of an Italian club, and a second to Juventus.

There is always a glimmer of hope when a team has such prolific goalscorers in their ranks, though. Jardim's side have scored three or more times on no fewer than 27 occasions this season and two or more in 16 away games, including seven of their last nine.

Monaco have also won 14 of their last 17 outings across all competitions, although it could be argued that they have been found lacking in must-win games considering that the only matches they have failed to win in that time were two cup finals against Paris Saint-Germain and the first leg of this tie.

Even so, Tuesday's visitors have little choice but to go all out attack at the Juventus Stadium, and with the likes of Radamel Falcao and Mbappe up front, the latter of whom has 18 goals in his last 20 games at the age of just 18, that could make for an exciting spectacle.

Recent form: LLWWWL
Recent form (all competitions): WWLWLW

Team News

Sami Khedira (L) of Juventus tackles Yevhen Konoplyanka of Sevilla during the UEFA Champions League group E match between Juventus and Sevilla FC on September 30, 2015 © Getty Images

Allegri is able to welcome Sami Khedira back from suspension for Tuesday's match, with the German expected to be restored straight into the starting lineup.

Juve rested a host of first-team players for Saturday's derby against Turin, and the likes of Buffon, Alves, Chiellini, Alex Sandro, Higuain and Miralem Pjanic are all likely to come back into the side in midweek.

Allegri could once again go for three at the back considering the success of that tactic in the first leg, which means that the return of Khedira - most likely in place of Claudio Marchisio - could be the only change from the match at the Stade Louis II.

Monaco, meanwhile, were only able to rest two players at the weekend, with both Mbappe and Bakayoko coming off the bench in the final 15 minutes.

Bakayoko remains a minor doubt due to his broken nose, but having played with a mask during the first leg he is expected to start once again on Tuesday alongside Fabinho in the middle of the park.

Djibril Sidibe is another doubt for the visitors, although the full-back should also be fit to start in Turin.

Juventus possible starting lineup:
Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Alves, Pjanic, Khedira, Sandro; Dybala, Higuain, Mandzukic

Monaco possible starting lineup:
Subasic; Dirar, Glik, Jemerson, Sidibe; Silva, Fabinho, Bakayoko, Lemar; Falcao, Mbappe

Head To Head

These two sides have met on two previous occasions in the Champions League, including one semi-final tie that went the way of Juventus.

A hat-trick from Alessandro del Piero and a fourth from Zinedine Zidane helped Juve to a 4-1 home win in the first leg of that encounter, which was enough to see them through to the 1998 final despite a 3-2 defeat in the second leg.

These two sides also met in the quarter-finals just two years ago, with Arturo Vidal's first-leg penalty in Turin proving to be the only goal of the tie.

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We say: Juventus 2-0 Monaco

Against almost any other team in world football, Monaco might have had a chance to overturn this deficit due to their electric attacking unit, but Juventus have already dealt with them and did the same to Barcelona's MSN in the previous round. It looks to be an impossible task for the visitors, and we're going for another professional Juventus triumph.

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Who will reach the final of the Champions League - Juventus or Monaco?

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