AS Monaco vs Juventus | Wednesday 22 April | Stade Louis II | 20:45
AS Monaco are surely the underground smash success of the European season, the sleeper hit that defied box-office expectations. This is something of a recurring motif for the French side; who can forget that amazing run to the final in 2003/2004? But in Juventus they face a side that has both quality and street smarts. Allegri will know that his side have an excellent opportunity to win their third European crown this year, especially with several of the other heavy hitters facing possible elimination. This should be an intriguing David and Goliath-esque fixture that may have a few surprises in store.
To Win (90mins)
To Qualify for Semi Final
AS Monaco 4/1
Leonardo Jardim’s side have lived something of a charmed life in this year’s Champions League. Their second leg display against Arsenal was probably a more accurate gauge of their European credibility than their quarter-final appearance. They currently lie third in Ligue 1 and will feel pleased with the way they have fared in this transitional period. But, they only have to overcome a one goal deficit and will still harbour some hopes of progression. Dimitar Berbatov has been quite disappointing of late, becoming a more peripheral figure as the campaign has progressed. The player who could hurt Juventus is Ferreira Carrasco, whose pace and strength were perhaps the main factor in seeing them progress against Arsenal. Kurzawa and Abdennour will come back from a weekend off while Kondogbia and Toulalan will miss out, leaving the midfield rather diminished. I can’t see the principality club being able to contain the attacking prowess of Juventus.
Allegri’s men have all but secured the Serie A title, affording the manager the right to rest key players in the league ahead of this game. Midfield juggernaut Paul Pogba will miss out along with Caceres and Asamoah. Marchisio will probably just have to work a little harder while Allegri may switch around to a back four. Barzagli may be the one to miss out, freeing up Evra and the inexhaustible Lichtsteiner to bombard the Monaco side. Carlos Tevez has been in excellent form this season, creating a dynamic partnership with the talented Alvaro Morata, who will no doubt be gaining invaluable experience playing alongside the Argentine. Their biggest absence will be that of Vidal, who is heavily suspected to miss out due to tonsillitis. Padoin will possibly come into the midfield, taking away some of the ineffable energy that the Chilean brings. Pirlo will control the game as Monaco go in search of a necessary goal. The entire template of the game suits Juventus’ counterattacking style, allowing Pirlo a little more time to make those killer passes that can split defences. With Real and Bayern in precarious danger of elimination, this could be Juventus’ year under the wise tutelage of Allegri.
VERDICT: Juventus 13/10
Juventus have had three clean sheets in the same amount of away matches, a foreboding sign for a Monaco side that needs to score. This included that unbelievable away demolition of Borussia Dortmund - a far better side than Monaco.