Monaco return to European action this week against Juventus in the quarter-finals of the Champions League in search of their first semi-final appearance since 2004. The principality have been in good form as of late, knocking out Arsenal in the last round and they’ll be confident that they can cause the Serie A champions plenty of headaches.
Leonardo Jardim’s men head into this one on the back of a comfortable 3-0 victory against Caen that saw them leapfrog Marseille this weekend into the Champions League places. They’ll hope they can maintain the momentum that has seen them rise up the table over the past few months and earned them rave reviews of their defensive prowess.
Juventus, on the other hand, lost 1-0 lowly Parma on Saturday who were 57 points behind the reiging champs before their game. It was the club’s first loss in Serie A since a 1-0 defeat away at Genoa back in late October but the Old Lady sit a comfortable 12 points above second place and look favourites to earn another Scudetto title.
Team News and Tactics
Monaco will miss the services of Jeremy Toulalan, who limped out of their win at the weekend but other than that, Jardim has a fully-fit squad to choose from. It’s highly unlikely they’ll move too far away from the 4-2-3-1 that’s been so effective of late, with potentially a centre-back deputising for Toulalan.
The Bianconeri expect to see Gianluigi Buffon and Carlos Tevez return after both missed the weekend whilst Andrea Pirlo is a doubt. Defender Andrea Barzagli is also a doubt with a sore calf whilst French international Paul Pogba will definitely miss the first leg.
Without Barzagli, Juve should go with a 4-3-1-2 that did so well against Borussia Dortmund. There will be a shuffle, Arturo Vidal will move back and others will come into the midfield, but Tevez should partner Alvaro Morata up front.
Anthony Martial (Monaco) – The 19-year-old Frenchman is in a rich vein of form, scoring six times in his last five Ligue 1 appearances. It’ll be a big test for him against the likes of Giorgio Chiellini but Martial has certainly shown in recent weeks why he’s so highly rated at Monaco.
Carlos Tevez (Juventus) – The former Manchester City striker is in great nick, having scored 25 goals in all competitions so far this season. That includes six goals in eight Champions League games and Juventus will lean on him again tonight yet the 31-year-old always seems to deliver the goods.
This is a tough one to call. Both sides are solid at the back and have options going forward so it might be injuries that make the difference. Monaco showed they could deal without Toulalan against Arsenal whilst Pogba is a huge miss for Juventus that could be even worse should Pirlo also miss out. It does feel like Monaco will get an away goal but Juventus have too much quality not to score themselves. It’ll certainly be interesting when the two face off again at the Stade Louis II in a few week’s time.
Prediction: Juventus 1-1 Monaco