By Visesh Rathi
Juventus vs. Monaco
Not much was expected of a game where an experienced and tactically ruthless team- like Juventus, play at home with a two away goal cushion against a side as young as Monaco, who, though are enthralling to watch, yet lack experience of handling big European matches as this one. Monaco tried to set the tone for an enthralling game with an early offside effort from Mbappe hitting the post, but Juve soon regained momentum after injured Khedira was replaced by Marchisio. In spite of the lead, Juve looked to confirm their ticket to Cardiff by remaining on offense and in was not long before Subasic was needed for a smart save from Mandzukic. And it took them just half an hour to book their berth in the finals when Mandzukic fired them ahead for a three goal lead. They soon had another in the net by Higuain which was ruled offside. In the other end, Chiellini and Bonnucci, aided by Alves and Barzagli kept Falcao and Mbappe at bay.
At the stroke of half time, Alves volleyed in a superb goal to crush any remaining hopes of a Monaco comeback. In the second half Juve knew that they just had to keep possession and frustrate Monaco, though Higuain and Mandzukic still could have added to the already swollen score line. Mbappe scored a consolation to end Buffon’s lengthy run of UCL clean sheet at sixty ninth minute but by this time the French had begun packing for their way back home and the Italians were looking at European dominance in Cardiff.
Juventus will need to convert more opportunities against Real Madrid (unless you believe in miracles happening every day, Atletico are unlikely to overcome the deficit) while a lack of concentration defensively that led to them conceding after ages in the tournament against the attack of Real Madrid might prove costly. But overall, Juve look the most complete team in Europe and are likely to give stiff competition to any Madrid team they might encounter in finals. As for Monaco, they can take a lot of heart from their overall performance in the tournament, as it is not every day that you get to beat the likes of Guardiola in European stage. It will be a pleasure to watch this team try to upset European giants in the next edition of the competition.