Juventus
    04.05.2017 13:00 - in: Champions League S

    Monaco vs Juventus: Five talking points

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    Juventus.com looks back on a magical night in Monte Carlo, in which the Bianconeri put one foot in the Champions League final

    Pipita’s predatory touch

     

    Two huge goals to put Juventus within touching distance of the Champions League final in Cardiff. Gonzalo Higuain was very much the man of the moment in Monte Carlo.

    Both strikes, a low, arrowed finish on 29 minutes and a close-range volley at the far post half an hour later, had all the hallmarks of a forward that was quite simply born with arguably football’s most precious talent: a predatory eye for goal.

    This was Pipita’s ninth brace of an excellent debut season with Juventus and unquestionably his most important to date.

    Dani Alves’ double assist

     

    Dani Alves is one of those players who represents everything that is great about the Champions League.

    Having lifted the trophy three times with Barcelona, here he is, as motivated as ever, strutting his stuff for his new club on Europe’s biggest stage with sort of youthful exuberance rarely seen among men of his age experience.

    His first assist of the night was the stuff of sheer beauty, flicking Paulo Dybala’s chip forwards with the back of his heel into the path of an onrushing Higuain to hammer home the all-important breakthrough goal.

    His second was more orthodox, but still oozed confidence and quality in abundance, as he sent a pinpoint cross for Pipita to put Juve 2-0 up.

    This was another case of a big player stepping up to the big occasion.

    621 minutes and counting

     

    …since Juventus last conceded a goal in the Champions League.

    If it seems like an eternity since Sevilla defender Nicolas Pareja breached the Bianconeri backline back on 22 November, it’s because it is!

    Six clean sheets later, Juve’s defence has taken their already legendary status as Europe’s finest to new heights.

    Yet again, Gianluigi Buffon was a man mountain between the sticks. The 39-year-old had joked in Tuesday’s press conference that when you want to win as much as him, it’s possible to lie about the age on your ID card, and he defied nature once more in Monte Carlo.

    ‘Numero Uno’ made a number of brilliant blocks to deny Monaco’s in-form strike-force of Kylian Mbappé and Radamel Falcao, not to mention the sharpest of reflex saves to tip Valère Germain’s header from point-blank range over the crossbar.

    The guys in front of him, the renowned BBC of Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini, weren’t bad either!

    Mighty midfield

     

    Juve had to do without the suspended Sami Khedira in Monte Carlo, but the midfield pair of Claudio Marchisio and Miralem Pjanic more than held their own at the centre of the Stade Louis II pitch.

    Marchisio, who has been eased back into action gradually this term after his ACL injury last season, built upon his highly impressive performance 10 days prior against Genoa with another commanding display – the latest evidence that the Little Prince is very much back on the rise.

    Like Marchisio, Pjanic too kept possession tight and played some delightful passes on the night, not least his lofted through ball for Dani Alves, who in turn almost set up Pipita with the scores goalless.

    The best part of all this? Allegri has said the Bosnian midfielder has an awful lot left in his locker still.

    Allegri outstanding again

     

    Last night was the latest managerial masterclass from Massimiliano Allegri.

    To play Dani Alves in the advanced right-wing position paid off superbly, the Brazilian providing two assists for Higuain as well as a hatful of goalscoring opportunities.

    The decision to field Andrea Barzagli at full-back was vindicated too following a clean sheet in which the experienced defender made a team-high three interceptions.

    When your side are playing just as you’d planned then there’s no need to make your first substitution until the 77th minute (when Juan Cuadrado replaced Higuain).

    This was a match in which the Tuscan tactician had complete control of matters from kick-off to the final whistle, and certainly not for the first time this season.

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