By Antony Jordan
The second Champions League Semi Final tie kicks off with the first leg between Monaco and Juventus at the Stade Louis II this Wednesday evening. Monaco are looking to secure their spot in the main event for the first time since 2004 while Juventus are aiming for their ninth final as they look to claim their third title, but who’ll take the advantage at full time in the French principality this midweek to lead going into the second half of the tie?
We preview this Wednesday night Champions League action with online sportsbook Bet365.com to bring you our best Champions League picks.
Both of these two sides have some minor injury issues and will see a handful of players miss the game. Djibril Sidibe, midfielder Boscilia, and Guido Carrillo will all be absent for the home team at the Stade Louis II while defender Daniele Rugani, midfielder Marko Pjaca, and striker Moise Kean are unavailable for the away side in this final four stage clash. With just three players each on the sidelines but sides will be confident in their chances with an almost full squad to choose from.
Monaco come into this final four stage clash having impressed in the Champions League as they topped their group before seeing off two big named and high scoring sides in Man City and Borussia Dortmund. They needed to come back from 5-3 down after the first leg against the EPL side to progress and they did so with a 3-1 win before beating the German team home and away. They netted 12 goals in these two ties, including two 3-1 home wins, and with 13 wins in 14 matches in all competitions during 2017 they will believe that they can win this match too.
Juventus also topped their group to secure passage into the knockout stages of the Champions League with ease and they did so in an opposite fashion to their hosts this midweek. Instead of scoring many goals they showed their superior defensive abilities as they conceded just two goals in six matches in the group round before keeping four clean sheets in the knockout stages too. They saw off Porto in the first knockout round before upsetting the odds to eliminate Barcelona. They even managed to draw 0-0 at the Camp Nou to secure passage to this final four stage clash, but with just a single win in their last five away games – and that against bottom of Serie A Pescara – do they deserve to be the favourites to win this first leg?
This tie will be just the second occasion where these two sides have clashed in competitive matches as they met at the Quarter Final stages of this competition two years ago. Juventus triumphed 1-0 over the two legs thanks to a penalty scored at home in the first leg of the tie before drawing 0-0 at the Stade Louis II. Juventus went on to reach the final that season and if they can triumph again they’ll once again secure a place in the final, this season being held at the Millennium Stadium in Wales.
Of these two sides we see Monaco attempting to play the better football of the two by getting the ball forward and creating chances while Juventus will aim to keep another clean sheet and ensure that they go back to Turin at least level, if not ahead by nicking a goal. However, the away side have shown that they can be gotten at by better sides when they are away from home with Napoli drawing 1-1 and winning 3-2 in the league and cup respectively in recent matches. We see Monaco taking advantages of these away day weaknesses and holding the lead in the tie at the start of the second leg next week.