Champions League 2017 : Juventus and Monaco Road to Semifinals

Juventus will face Monaco in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League,  The first legs of the semi-finals will take place on May 2 and 3, with the return legs coming on May 9 and 10.

Juventus and Monaco have faced each other at this stage of the competition before, in 1998. Monaco won the first leg 3-2, with Thierry Henry scoring one of the goals for the French side, but Juvetus came back to win the second leg 4-1, thanks to an Alessandro del Piero hat-trick, thus securing their passage to the final 6-4 on aggregate.

Juventus also beat Monaco in the 2014/15 quarters, Arturo Vidal’s penalty in Turin the only goal of the tie.

Read the journey of both the teams how both teams made it to the semifinals of Champions League 2017.

Juventus

When you lose to a team boasting an attacking line that comprises of Messi, Neymar and Suarez in the finals of the UCL you bow out dignified. But, when you reach the semifinals of the same competition at the expense of the same team with same attack two years later without allowing them even a single goal across two legs, the revenge is bound to be sweet. The journey to this moment for Juventus started with a goalless draw against Europa champions Sevilla which was followed by a comprehensive four goal victory in Zagreb against Dinamo Zagreb. A tricky trip to French outfit Lyon was next where a solo Cuadrado strike settled the match for the Old Lady after Lyon were reduced to ten men. Juventus looked set to take all the points in the return leg as well after an early penalty by Higuain but had to settle for a draw thanks to a late strike from Tolisso. The away game at Sevilla started with the hosts scoring within 10 minutes before a second booking to Vazquez gave Juve the edge as they leveled via Marchisio’s penalty at half time after which Bonnucci and Mandzukic scored late to propel them through to the knock out stages. The last game against Dinamo was a mere formality for the old lady who won comfortably thanks to second half strikes from Higuain and Rugani.

Juventus were the more fancied team as the knock out draw saw them pit against Porto. They too would have fancied themselves more as the 27th minute of first leg saw Porto reduced to tem men. Yet it took two late strikes from substitutes to seal the deal for Juventus as two away goal advantage to a defense of Juventus’ caliber was always going to be a humongous task for any team. The second leg saw Juventus win by a single penalty from Dybala in a game they had controlled throughout to meet Barcelona in the quarters.

The first leg of the quarter final between Juventus and Barcelona saw the Catalan side beaten by three goals thanks to a Dybala double in the first half and Chiellini’s strike in the second. The only way back for Barca was to go all out against Juve as they had to against PSG in the previous round. But despite a plethora of attempts, they could not break the resolute Juventus defense marshaled by evergreen Buffon as the game ended in a goalless draw, helping the Old lady advance at the expense of the team who had denied them the trophy two years ago.

Monaco

How many of you had imagined reading about Monaco’s journey to semi finals at the start of the campaign? Even if it were Leicester, it would have still been believable, but Monaco? They were the ones who had to endure to qualifying rounds to just get into the group stage where they lost to Fenerbache in the first leg of the first qualifier. Yet, they went on to win the second leg by three goals to one to set up second qualifier with Villarreal, where again they won three one on aggregate. But who would have fancied Monaco in a group that also had Tottenham and Leverkusen along with unpredictable CSKA Moskova. The best any one would have hoped for Monaco was to finish third and reach the Europa League. Yet, the first game against Tottenham saw Monaco upset the hosts by winning two goals to one. The next two games against Leverkusen and Moskova were both one all draws, not quite the stuff to ignite fanciful thoughts for Monaco. The next game saw them win comprehensively by three first half goals against Moskova which also included a brace by Falcao. But what came as a shocker was the next game against Tottenham where they beat the group favorites again by 2-1 where five minutes saw Kane’s penalty sandwiched between Sidibe and Lemar’s strikes. They did get beaten by Leverkusen away from home by three nil but that could not stop them from meeting Manchester City in the knock out stages.

Nobody had fancied a Monaco team against last season’s semi Finalists City, who with Guardiola at helm and likes of Silva, Sterling, Aguero, Sane, Toure etc in the side. But fans were treated to a goal feast with eight goals scored – Sterling opening the charts for City quickly followed by goals from Falcao and Mbappe in the first half to hand Monaco a shock lead. The second half saw Aguero equalize shortly after the break only for Falcao to quickly take the lead again. Aguero equalized again after ten minutes, and City added two more in the following ten minutes through Stones and Sane to go on the road leading 5-3. This was supposed to be enough for a star studded team like City to enter the quarters, but underdog stories are built on upsets, and Guardiola’s team was in for a surprise as Mbappe and Fabinho’s goals saw Monaco finish the first half with a two goal lead; equal on aggregate, ahead on away goals. Sane struck for the English giants to restore normalcy and give the lead to City, but six minutes were enough for Monaco as Bakayoko’s goal saw them equalize again and finish the game by qualifying on City’s expense on away goals to set up a clash with Dortmund in the quarters.

Dortmund is a young exciting team that captured imaginations four years ago by piping Real Madrid to the finals. Monaco has been a young exciting team who had beaten the talented City side managed by none other than Guardiola. The clash between these two sides was always going to be exciting. But the excitement was marred by an attack on the Dortmund team bus, which saw defender Marc Bartra hospitalized and game was postponed. This seemed to have an effect as Monaco won 3-2, with Mbappe showing his class with a brace while, Kagawa and Dembele scored for the home team and Bender put one into his own net to give the visitors the advantage. Aubameyang missed a host of opportunities but the clash in Monaco was always going to be tight with such narrow margins. Dortmund were supposed to use their talent and experience on such stage to their advantage and turn the tide in their favor, but Monaco had forgotten to read the script and seared away with a two goal lead with Mbappe and Falcao scoring within the first seventeen. Reus’ strike right after half time was a mere consolation as Germain’s late strike sealed the deal for the hosts to reach the semi finals against more resolute Juventus. It will be exciting to see if the Old Lady’s veterans are too much to handle for a young and energetic Monaco team.

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