AS Monaco vs Juventus Turin – Wednesday 19:45BST/20:45CEST – Stade Louis II – Monaco.
Whereas Tuesday’s encounter between Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid has a distinct La Liga flair Wednesday’s game between Monaco and Juventus Turin will provide for an actual European encounter. In fact, the meeting between Monaco and Juventus could be quite possibly matchup between the competition’s two most exciting clubs.
Monaco has already become the hipster choice this season. A club filled with youthful talents storming through the contest by scoring bucket loads of goals. Attacker Kylian Mbappé, Falcao, Bernardo Silva, Thomas Lemar, Fabinho, and Benjamin Mendy are just a few names that stood out for Monaco this season. Sadly European football economics will likely mean that this talented team will be dismantled by the end of the season. Until then we might be enjoying some of the most spirited, and attacking minded football, the European game has to offer.
Monaco, however, may face their greatest challenge yet. Juventus Turin’s defence has been a rock this season with goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon just conceding two goals in nine games. But to reduce Juventus just to their defensive capabilities would be unkind. The Italian side may, in fact, be the most complete squad left in the competition.
The display against Barcelona (3-0 on aggregate) showed that Juventus do not only possess the strongest backline in European football but also have infinite depth up front. Gonzalo Higuaín, Mario Mandžukić, Paulo Dybala, and Juan Cuadrado are not only unplayable when on form, but their different skillsets mean that it is very hard to shut down Juventus’ attack completely. It is Juventus’ attack, in fact, that will make the Italians favourites going into this tie. Monaco has bleed goals in all their knockout stage games, which could mean trouble against a Juve side that rarely gives up goals, and knows how to attack.
AS Monaco vs Juventus Turin – Players to look out for:
Kylian Mbappé #29 – AS Monaco
If Dortmund fans have not heard of Mbappé before the first leg, they will know all about the 18 years old as the second leg starts. With a quick finish for his opener in the first leg, it is perhaps his second, Monaco’s third, on the night that marks him out as one to watch. The French forward then added another goal in the second leg to completely unhinge Borussia Dortmund scoring three goals in two legs. Mature beyond his years, he already has 14 goals in 25 Ligue 1 appearances, with eight assists. These statistics are impressive enough, but also the young striker already has five goals in seven Champions League games, a goal every 71 minutes.
Gianluigi Buffon #1 – Juventus Turin
There are not many titles Gianluigi Buffon has not won in his illustrious career. The 39-year-old Juventus Turin keeper won the 2006 World Cup with Italy, seven Italian championships, three Italian Cups, and the UEFA Cup. The only major trophies missing in his cabinet are the European Championship, and the Champions League trophy, and with Buffon turning 40 next year, and the next European Championship not taking place until 2020 it is unlikely that the legendary keeper will win that trophy with his country before he retires. But with Juventus having reached the semi-final, after a convincing quarterfinal victory over Barcelona, there might be a real chance Buffon could add the most prestigious club trophy this season. Buffon has in fact been a significant part of Turin’s strong defence this season recording seven clean sheets in nine Champions League games, and Buffon will, therefore, be the key player in stopping a red-hot Monaco attack.
AS Monaco vs Juventus Turin – Match Stats
- Monaco are aiming to reach the final for the second time, having got that far in 2003-04, following their last semi-final appearance.
- Juventus were last at this stage two seasons ago, when they went on to make the final – they are targeting a ninth European Cup final.
- Monaco and Juventus have previous in UEFA Champions League semi-finals, the Bianconeri winning 6-4 on aggregate in 1997-98, en route to losing to Real Madrid CF in the final.
- Monaco are in their fourth European Cup semi-final, and their first since 2004 when they beat Chelsea FC 5-3 on aggregate (3-1 h, 2-2 a).
- Monaco have scored in all but one of their 14 games in this season’s competition, only drawing a blank in a 3-0 matchday six defeat at Leverkusen.
- Juve are unbeaten in six meetings with French sides, home and away, since a 2-0 loss at FC Girondins de Bordeaux in the 2009-10 group stage. Their record since is W4 L2.
- The Italian team have won all 11 of their two-legged contests against Ligue 1 opposition.
Prediction: AS Monaco vs Juventus Turin – 0-2
Subasić – Mendy, Glik, Jemerson, Dirar – Fabinho, Moutinho – Lemar, Silva – Mbappé, Falcao
Coach: Leonardo Jardim
Buffon – Alex Sandro, Chiellini, Bonucci, Alves – Pjanić, Lemina – Mandžukić, Dybala, Cuadrado – Higuain
Coach: Massimiliano Allegri