Mission impossible for Monaco?

UEFA Champions League

After a 2-0 defeat in last week's first leg, AS Monaco face an uphill struggle as they take on Juventus in Turin in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final on Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg

Juventus FC  -  AS Monaco

Kick-off 20:45 CET, Juventus 2-0 up from first leg

Juventus have not lost at home since August 2015 and are unbeaten in front of their own fans in Europe in 22 matches since a 2-0 loss to Bayern Munich in April 2013. But not only do Monaco need to win in Turin, they need to score at least three goals against a Juve defence that rarely gives much away, or win 2-0 and hold out for penalties.

Monaco saw close up just how solid the reigning Italian champions are at the back when they won at the Stade Louis II last Wednesday, with Gonzalo Higuaín scoring both their goals in the principality. But Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim has urged his team to play with the pressure off.

"We will have to attack but keep cool heads. We will need to play our game and hopefully get a goal in the first half. That will give us the strength to try to score a second goal. In the first leg we had the same number of shots on goal as Juve but they were more clinical," Jardim said at his pre-game press conference on Monday.

The Portuguese coach has regularly declared that the main aim for his side this season is to win the Ligue 1 title, and they are tantalisingly close after Saturday's 3-0 win at AS Nancy Lorraine left them three points clear of Paris Saint-Germain, who have two games left. But he is remaining optimistic about their prospects of reaching the final.

"Tomorrow we want to keep our dream alive: our objective is to reach the final. I’m very proud of my players and what they have done so far, regardless of Tuesday's result," he said.

"We still believe we can qualify. We might have lost the first leg but we are ready to play a great game," added the full-back Djibril Sidibé. "We have had a great season so far and tomorrow we will give our best to win. We were disappointed with the result of the first leg but we are still full of enthusiasm. The main objective is to end the game with no regrets."

'Nothing to lose'

Monaco have every right to be confident that they can score goals - after all they have scored 149 goals in all competitions this season. But Juve, who are closing in on a record sixth successive Serie A title, have won all of their 11 previous two-legged European ties against French opposition, including against Monaco in both the 1997/98 UEFA Champions League semi-finals and the 2014/15 quarter-finals.

"Monaco have nothing to lose, they can play with freedom and create trouble because they have players with great talent, especially up front," warned the Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri, as his side have a second Champions League final in three seasons in their sights. "We will have to play aggressively and try to win. We have to play even better than we did in Monaco because we made a few mistakes there."

Allegri made eight changes for the 1-1 weekend draw with Torino in Serie A but his line-up here should resemble that which featured in the first leg, although Sami Khedira could play after being suspended last midweek. Benjamin Mendy is still struggling for fitness for Monaco but was named in the squad, unlike Almamy Touré.

Probable teams

Juventus: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Pjanić, Khedira; Dani Alves, Dybala, Mandžukić; Higuaín

Monaco: Subašić; Mendy, Jemerson, Glik, Sidibé; Bernardo Silva, Fabinho, Bakayoko, Lemar; Mbappé, Falcao

>> UEFA Champions League: Fixtures/results

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