Serie A heavyweights Juventus confirmed their place in the Champions League final thanks to a 4-1 aggregate win over AS Monaco. Bianconeri have thus earned their chance to fight for a coveted trophy that got snatched in front of their noses two years ago.
Here are the five things we learned from the clash at Juventus Arena:
Juventus continue incredible home form effortlessly
Comebacks and turnarounds are possible in football and we’ve seen a fair share of those by now, even this season in the Champions League. But it is fair to say that they only happen when you are not facing Serie A champions Juventus.
Bianconeri have done a wonderful job to mute one of Europe’s highest scoring sides in the first leg and then go the job done almost effortlessly in the return leg as they celebrated the success of reaching the big final in Cardiff in front of exuberant fans. Mario Mandzukic demonstrated clinical finish in a wonderful team effort, whereas Dani Alves’s rocket only confirmed what was already known after the first match in Monaco. Juventus are heading to Cardiff unbeaten in their last 50 home games in all competitions with their last defeat having come in August 2015 against Udinese. This piece of statistics is just another confirmation of their quality, strength and stamina this season – and in general.
AS Monaco mentally out of tie
French hot-shots AS Monaco ended up being surprisingly toothless for a side that scored almost 100 goals in the League 1 and well over a century of goals in all competitions this season.
Leonardo Jardim’s side struggled mentally against a frightening opponent which only allowed two goals during the entire Champions League this season until tonight. Juventus’ defensive record can get into your head and it definitely did with AS Monaco, who were unrecognisably edgeless against Bianconeri. The Principality club high-scoring stars were lacking composure and were visibly out of their usual style of play, which they have incredible Juventus ream to blame for. Mbappe’s goal added a bit of flair into AS Monaco’s performance, but the experienced side such as Juventus never allowed for the flair to burst into an unmanageable fire.
Andrea Barzagli brutalised Kylian Mbappe
The 18-year-old AS Monaco starlet Kylian Mbappe could use the Juventus two-legged tie in the semi-final of the Champions League to help him remain grounded with all the hype around him over the past few months. Mbappe can now reflect on the two-legged tie from the perspective that he still has a long way to go before he reaches stardom.
The highly-talented boy blossomed during the 2016/17 season in Ligue 1 and Champions League, scoring 14 and 6 goals in two competitions, respectively. Touted the next Thierry Henry, AS Monaco teenager has been terrorising defences throughout the season, but against Juventus he ran into a brick wall which knocked him flat on the bottom. Andrea Barzagli is the reason for frustrating performances from the in-form lad, as the 36-year-old Italian defender silenced the Monaco gun and detached him from the rest of the team almost completely. Mbappe seemed out of the game for the better part of the match and the consolation goal he scored for his side with a simple tap-in will have hardly improved the overall impression.
Dani Alves puts in another world-class performance
Brazilian right-back Dani Alves has arguably been the best Juventus performer over the entire semi-final tie.
The former Barcelona star recorded three assists in two games against Monaco, and capped his incredible influential performance over the two legs with a wonderful goal of his own. Alves’ first-half volley striker was a piece of art and a goal worthy of a world-class striker. You could never tell Dani Alves was a right-back based on his attacking capabilities and technical qualities which were well on display with the goal he scored. In addition to his attacking exploits, Dani Alves was once again tracking deep down into his own half to help his defensive partners contain the formidable attacking potential hidden within the ranks of Monaco.
Tactical fluency Juventus’ biggest strength
The Italian giants Juventus are a side capable of performing incredible tactical transformations. Max Allegri deserves all the praise for his magical touch on high-quality Juventus side, but the players deserve a lot of credit for successfully putting his ideas into action as well.
What we saw against AS Monaco were two completely different Juventus teams in a tactical sense of the word. Last week’s 4-2-3-1 with Dani Alves as a winger was followed by this week’s seemingly more defensive 3-4-2-1 with Brazilian deployed at a slightly defensive role. Allegri’s transformations are testament to Bianconeri’s ability to constantly reinvent themselves and use their squad depth to make most of the flying talent they boast within their fantastic crop of players.
JUVENTUS: Buffon 7 – Barzagli 7.5 (Benatia -), Bonucci 7.5, Chiellini 7.5 – Dani Alves 9, Pjanic 6.5, Khedira – (Marchisio 7), Alex Sandro 7.5 – Dybala 7 (Cuadrado 6.5), Mandzukic 8 – Higuain 6.5
Unused subs: Asamoah, Lichtsteiner, Neto, Rincon.
AS MONACO: Subasic 6 – Raggi 6, Glik 6.5, Jemerson 6.5, Sidibe 6 – Mendy 6 (Fabinho 6.5), Bakayoko 6.5 (Germain 6) , Moutinho 6, Silva 6 (Lemar 6) – Falcao 6.5, Mbappe 6.
Unused subs: Carillo, De Sanctis, Diallo.
REFEREE: Antonio Mateu Lahoz
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