Juventus v Monaco: reporters' view
Monday, April 6, 2015
Juventus match reporter Paolo Menicucci and AS Monaco FC correspondent Ian Holyman look in depth at the tie between the two-time winners and 2004 runners-up.
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Paolo Menicucci: Juventus limited Borussia Dortmund to five shots on target in 180 minutes of the 5-1 UEFA Champions League round of 16 aggregate win. "They defend well and passionately," said Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp, "and are incredibly dangerous in transition." The return from injury of centre-back Andrea Barzagli certainly facilitates the first part, while the pace of Álvaro Morata and Carlos Tévez helps explain the rest.
Ian Holyman: AS Monaco FC had the best defensive record of the group stage, and their overall tally of four goals conceded in eight games this term says it all. A near-watertight back line has been crucial as the Ligue 1 side reached their first UEFA Champions League quarter-final since 2003/04. Monaco's rearguard got them beyond Arsenal FC yet further progress will depend on how well Leonardo Jardim's men contain Juventus's attacking talents.
Paolo Menicucci: Coach Massimiliano Allegri has lost Paul Pogba (thigh) and another key midfielder, Claudio Marchisio (knee), is a doubt. Andrea Pirlo should be back soon from a calf injury and Arturo Vidal – superb in Dortmund – seems close to his best form, but losing two pieces of their formidable midfield quartet is certainly a heavy blow for the Bianconeri.
Ian Holyman: If stopping goals hasn't been a problem for Monaco, scoring them has. Les Rouge et Blanc have created few opportunities in their eight matches so far. The three strikes they registered in London in their last-16 first leg at Arsenal nearly doubled their competition haul – and they barely looked like finding the net in the return fixture.
Paolo Menicucci: The display at Dortmund confirmed that Juve have hit their peak in the most important part of the season. The Bianconeri are in the driving seat to claim a fourth consecutive Scudetto, with their advantage so great that boss Allegri could even afford to give a deserved rest to some main players.
Ian Holyman: Second-from-bottom in early September, Monaco's domestic fortunes have improved along with their European prospects. Having lost only once in 11 Ligue 1 outings in 2015, last year's runners-up have a realistic chance of a top-three finish – an unthinkable outcome in the initial phase of the campaign.
Paolo Menicucci: Juve failed to make the knockout rounds last term and were eliminated by FC Bayern München in the 2013 quarter-finals after overcoming Celtic FC in the last 16. Knockout ties are not the Old Lady's house speciality as they have not lifted the Coppa Italia since 1995 despite their recent supremacy in Serie A.
Ian Holyman: Defeated finalists in 2004, Monaco showcased their credentials this time around at Arsenal – and have now advanced in all ten UEFA competition ties in which they won the first leg away from home. Beaten by SC Bastia on penalties in the Coupe de la Ligue semi-finals, and at Paris Saint-Germain in the Coupe de France quarter-finals, Monaco have been a tough proposition domestically in winner-takes-all situations.
Paolo Menicucci: Allegri has certainly watched Monaco's 3-1 triumph at Arsenal and I expect the Bianconeri to avoid the mistakes the Gunners made. "We were over-confident, we were not cautious enough," said Arsène Wenger. The Italian champions will not take too many risks in Turin where a narrow first-leg success or even a 0-0 draw could herald qualification.
Ian Holyman: After ASM's clinical showing at Arsenal, Juventus won't underestimate their rivals – least of all in Italy. Serie A's finest should prevail and earn a home victory, yet they are unlikely to win the return. Before their second-leg reverse to the Gunners, Monaco had gone eight European games unbeaten at Stade Louis II. Indeed, they have never lost at home to Italian opposition in Monte Carlo. A 0-0 in the principality appears probable.
One to watch/game changer
Paolo Menicucci: Four days after netting two and making another in Juventus's 3-0 stroll in Dortmund, Tévez scored a wonder goal in a 1-0 league win over Genoa CFC. "It was an extraordinary strike in keeping with his remarkable season," Allegri said. "I allow him the freedom to move around a bit more, I think that's important for him." The 'Apache' is on fire.
Ian Holyman: Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco has found himself used as a 'joker' by Jardim, as the French would say, yet he could be the ace up the Portuguese tactician's sleeve. Pacy, tricky and with the capacity to take on – and beat – his man, the Belgian international poses a serious threat. The 21-year-old is a real menace, particularly later in matches against tiring opponents. Just ask Arsenal.
Possible starting XI
Juventus: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichsteiner, Marchisio, Pirlo, Vidal, Evra; Morata, Tévez.
Monaco: Subašić; Fabinho, Carvalho, Abdennour, Kurzawa; Toulalan, Kondogbia; Dirar, Moutinho, Ferreira-Carrasco; Berbatov.