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UEFA Champions League

Champions League Semi-finals: Ultra Defensive versus Masters of Attack



The setting is that of defensive masters against attacking maestros. For the second successive occasion, Juventus defensive masters come up against one of Europe’s attacking sides, AS Monaco, Wednesday evening.
The Italian side have conceded goals just twice in 10 games in this season’s European campaign.
It is to be found out if Juventus will be able to overcome Monaco as they did in the quarter-finals.
It is Monaco’s first appearance in the semi finals since 2004. For Juventus, in the last 11 times of featuring in the semi finals, they have won just one away leg and will be attempting to improve on this when they face Monaco.
Monaco FC have lost twice to Juventus in the UEFA Champions League, and will look to take a significant step towards improving that record when they welcome opponents who have never lost a two-legged tie to French opposition in 11 attempts.
One of Monaco’s three previous UEFA Champions League semi-finals ended in defeat against Juventus, although the Ligue 1 side did win the home second leg.
Monaco are aiming to reach the final for the second time, having got that far in 2003/04, following their last semi-final appearance.
Juventus on the other hand were last at semi finals two seasons ago, when they went on to make the final – they are targeting a ninth European Cup final.
Monaco and Juventus have met in previous in UEFA Champions League semi-finals.
The Bianconeri winning 6-4 on aggregate in 1997/98, en route to losing to Real Madrid CF in the final.
In the first leg, Marcello Lippi’s Juventus triumphed 4-1 at the Stadio Delle Alpi where Alessandro Del Piero hit a hat-trick (including two penalties) and Zinédine Zidane added a late fourth.
Jean Tigana’s Monaco edged the second leg 3-2, their scorers including Thierry Henry, who joined Juventus for an eight-month spell the next year. That year, Nigeria’s Victor Ikpeba featured for Monaco.
Massimiliano Allegri’s Juve also beat Monaco, coached then as now by Leonardo Jardim, in the 2014/15 quarterfinals, Arturo Vidal’s 57th-minute spot kick in the first leg in Turin the only goal of the tie.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and the country’s most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022.

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