Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba will sit out both legs of the quarter-final against AS Monaco FC through injury. UEFA.com's Paolo Menicucci asks just how much he will be missed.
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Juventus will face AS Monaco FC in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals without key midfielder Paul Pogba, who has been ruled out for seven weeks with a hamstring injury – but just how much will he be missed?
The victory in Dortmund
Juventus showed strength in depth in the round of 16. After edging out Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in Turin, the Bianconeri then went to Germany without Andrea Pirlo and were soon also shorn of Pogba. Massimiliano Allegri's side, however, responded with one of their most convincing – and morale-boosting – European performances of recent years, beating Dortmund 3-0 and limiting the Bundesliga team to two shots on goal over the 90 minutes.
How important is Pogba?
The French international had missed only three minutes of Juve's UEFA Champions League campaign before coming off on 27 minutes in Dortmund. He scored the winner against Olympiacos FC on matchday four and also had two assists to his name. The 22-year-old has been even more influential in Serie A, registering seven goals in 22 appearances.
The statistics, though, tell just half the story. "He is extraordinary and he is still developing," Allegri said recently. "He is destined to become the best in the world." It is an assessment that is hard to argue with: pace, strength in the tackle, touch and a powerful shot – he has it all.
Monaco's back line was near-watertight in the group phase. Leonardo Jardim's side conceded only once in six games, form they carried into the round of 16. They shocked Arsenal FC 3-1 in north London and, though they lost 2-0 at home, the principality outfit had already done enough. If they can deny Juventus the space to utilise the pace of Carlos Tévez and Álvaro Morata, the lack of Pogba's shooting from range will be felt even more.
Juventus dominated the last three Serie A campaigns by playing with a three-man defence under Antonio Conte. Allegri continued to employ the same 3-5-2 system until the Bianconeri hosted Olympiacos in a must-win match on 4 November, when he decided to switch to a back four in order to accommodate his four star midfielders – Pirlo, Pogba, Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal.
It was a template that served the Old Lady well until the return to fitness of centre-back Andrea Barzagli – out since the FIFA World Cup – and Pogba's departure persuaded Allegri to return to three at the back for the final hour against Dortmund. Will they stick with it? Pirlo's imminent comeback complicates matters, but there is little doubt Allegri has plenty to ponder now that Pogba is unavailable.