Juventus host Monaco in the second leg of their Champions League semifinal on Tuesday (live, 2 p.m. ET on FS1). The Italians come into this one up 2-0 with two crucial away goals, so they’re squarely in the driver’s seat for this one. Monaco need at least two goals against a defense that hasn’t conceded in 10 hours and 20 minutes. If anyone can do it, it’s this high-flying, free-scoring Monaco team, and the Bianconeri will be well aware of the threat they possess.
What do Juventus need to do to hold on and earn a trip to the Champions League final?
Take early chances
The easiest way to kill this one off will be to get an early goal. With the intimidating atmosphere of the Juventus Stadium, the hosts’ defensive reputation, and the relative youth and inexperience of Monaco, an early goal could be the deathblow. Monaco would then need three goals to progress, and that kind of hurdle would likely deflate the visitors. Conversely, an early goal for Monaco would give them hope and energy, setting the game up to be a real battle for 90-plus minutes. The best way to avoid all of that nonsense? Juve have to take their chances early.
Ratchet up the pressure
Juventus were successful in the first leg in part because of the pressure they were able to exert on Tiemoue Bakayoko in midfield. While he’s a phenomenal ball-winner, he’s less assured in possession, and by funneling Monaco through his feet, Juventus were often able to win the ball back in dangerous areas. For part two, they have to do the same. Sitting back and letting Monaco attack at will is a disaster in the making. They’ll be able to get the ball to their playmakers and then Monaco are flying.
Miralem Pjanic must run the show
In the first leg against Monaco, Miralem Pjanic was ubiquitous. He sprayed the ball around at will, was a menace on the defensive side of the ball, and the Monegasques had no answer for him. Time after time, Monaco executed their high press perfectly, only to see their efforts go to waste with Pjanic’s calm play out of pressure. In the second leg, Pjanic will have to be at his best once again and control the pace of the game for Juventus.
Slow down Kylian Mbappe
Kylian Mbappe’s shown just how dangerous he can be all season. He didn’t disappoint against Europe’s best defense, and in the first leg he absolutely terrorized Juventus’ backline. If Monaco are going to stand any chance of coming back, it’s probably going off his boot, and the Bianconeri will have to be wary of the very real and very potent threat he presents. Denying service to the 18-year-old is a start, but if he isn’t closed down and given a couple bumps in the process, he can cause issues.
Keep La Joya involved
Miralem Pjanic may run Juventus’ midfield, but Paulo Dybala is their creative inspiration. It’s important that he gets involved in the game early to help set the pace for Juventus and keep Monaco on the back foot. If he’s able to get a rhythm, Juventus will find it a lot easier to see the game out and keep it pushing on to the final. His ability to find space on and off the ball, his uncanny ability to retain possession and draw fouls, and his ever-expanding range of passing makes him a unique threat from almost anywhere in the attacking half. If he’s involved and on his game, Juventus can feel confident about their chances.
Stifle Bernardo Silva
Bernardo Silva is a special talent. He showed it in flashes against Juventus in the first leg, but ultimately wasn’t able to create an opening for his team. Alongside Kylian Mbappe, he’ll be Monaco’s biggest threat to Juventus, and they’ll need to pay special attention to the danger he poses. He’ll likely operate on the right side of Monaco’s midfield, and it’ll be Alex Sandro and Mario Mandzukic tasked with tracking him. It’ll be a tough ask, but if they get the job done, they have to like their chances.
Juventus F.C., AS Monaco FC, UEFA Champions League
Published by Fadi Ajam
View all posts by Fadi Ajam