CHAMPION LEAGUE – PROLIFIC MONACO LOOK TO BREAK DOWN THE DEFENSE OF JUVENTUS

By Toyin Akiode

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Monaco is Ligue 1 leaders. Scoring for fun, they boast of one of Europe’s most exciting newcomers in striker Kylian Mbappe

The 18-year-old has netted 18 goals in his last 18 competitive games, including three in the 6-3 aggregate win over Borussia Dortmund in the last eight.

Mbappe is not alone – Veteran and deadly goal poacher, Radamel Falcao is very much around!

Those who failed to give appropriate respect have been bundled out by the duo and they seem to be just warming up.

But Juventus boast the tightest defense in Europe’s top club competition, with just two goals conceded in this campaign.

“Even Barcelona could not score in two games against them so it will be complicated for us”, said Monaco defender Kamil Glik.

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Mbappe

The Italian champions, who advanced to the last four with an aggregate 3-0 win over Barcelona, were held to a 2-2 draw at Atalanta in a rare defensive mix-up in Serie A on Friday.

Their pedigree and record for being impregnable when it matters, however, suggest Juventus should be regarded as the favourites.

“Monaco have technical and tactical qualities as well as talented young players,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.

“They do not have the same history as Juventus but that does not mean it will be easy for us to make it to the final.”

Monaco have shone in Europe and at home this season and their domestic title hopes received a welcome boost when a nervous PSG side lost 3-1 at Nice on Sunday, leaving the club from the French Riviera three points clear at the top with a game in hand.

Juventus, meanwhile, are closing in on a record sixth straight Serie A title and can turn to their European history for inspiration, having won the showcase club competition twice, in 1985 and 1996.

Monaco, by contrast, reached the Champions League final only once, in 2004, losing 3-0 to a Porto side coached by Jose Mourinho after a great run featuring wins over Real Madrid and Chelsea.

The sides have faced each other twice before on the Champions League stage with Juventus winning both ties, in the 1998 semi-finals and the 2015 quarters.

Team news

Midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko is a doubt for Monaco due to a broken nose suffered in a training ground accident with team-mate Glik.

Juventus will be without defender Daniele Rugani due to a knee injury and midfielder Sami Khedira, who is serving a one-game suspension.

OPTA STATS

Monaco have reached the Champions League semis for the fourth time after 1993/94, 1997/98 and 2003/04. No other French team has made the last four more than once.

After failing to reach the last four of the Champions League from 2003/04 to 2013/14, Juventus have now made the semis for the second time in three seasons (after 2014/15).

Monaco have won 71% of their home games in the Champions League (22 out of 31). Among clubs to have hosted at least 30 games, only Real Madrid (76.5%), Barcelona (72.1%) & Bayern Munich (71.3%) have a better win ratio.

Monaco have scored exactly three goals in each of their four Champions League knockout games this season. In fact, they are the first team in the competition’s history to find the net at least three times in four consecutive knockout games.

Gonzalo Higuain has scored only two goals in 24 Champions League knockout games. In the group stages, he’s netted 13 goals in 38 games.

Falcao has scored 39 goals in the Europa League and Champions League since his debut in September 2009 against Chelsea; only Robert Lewandowski (41), Lionel Messi (77) and Cristiano Ronaldo (85) have more European goals (excl. qualifiers)

Culled from Skysports

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