Juventus are already running away with a fourth consecutive Serie A title, holding a 12-point lead, and are likely to pick up the Italian Cup as well. But in order to put themselves in line for a rare treble, they’ll have to take down an aggressive AS Monaco side in Tuesday night’s Champions League quarterfinal at Juventus Stadium.
Old Lady manager Massimiliano Allegri is quite aware of his squad’s potential, but is exercising caution when he insists no title has been secured. And it certainly seems necessary given the 1-0 letdown to lowly Parma in Serie A play over the weekend.
“But we have not achieved anything yet,” Allegri said to The Guardian. “We still need more points to win the league, and we still have to play the Coppa Italia final. The Champions League remains a dream in which our objective is simply to do our best and aim to achieve a great result. For now, that could be reaching the semi-final.”
It seems to be just the kind of humble attitude Juventus needs to stay focused and achieve something that’s eluded them for quite a while despite their resounding success in Italy. The Old Lady are seeking their first trip to the semifinals since 2003.
Based off their performance in the Round of 16 against Borussia Dortmund, Juventus must be considered a major threat to the rest of the field. Powered by speedy and clever forwards Carlos Tevez and Alvaro Morata, Juventus dismantled the German side for a 5-1 aggregate victory.
Tevez has notched six goals during the tournament, three of which came in the two legs against Dortmund, while Morata’s scored two goals thus far.
Clearly the striker position is one of Juventus’ best strengths, but midfield could be an issue against Monaco. Andrea Pirlo has yet to return to the lineup since suffering a calf injury against Dortmund and remains a questionable start, and Paul Pogba remains out due to a hamstring strain.
That could open up some opportunities for Arturo Vidal to shine and regain some trust from supporters, some of whom have criticized the 27-year-old for only scoring six goals this term. The Chilean opted for knee surgery before the World Cup and his recovery time spilled into Serie A play, but he’s hoping to punch Juventus into the semifinals.
"Some [of the criticism] was unfair," Vidal said to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Sometimes I had to play in a disastrous physical state, but only I and the doctor knew.
"If I am needed, I certainly never hold myself back. I certainly cannot be criticised on a professional level. I've always given one thousand percent for this club on the field, no matter how I was feeling."
As for Monaco, they haven’t reached this deep in the tournament since their appearance in 2004’s final, and certainly deserve respect after reaching this far with last year’s top scorer Radamel Falcao on-loan to Manchester United.
Manager Leonardo Jardim openly pleaded for his team to receive some laurels for their run, especially after holding off a talent-rich Arsenal side 3-3 on aggregate in the Round of 16.
"Our team is in the Champions League quarterfinals on merit,” Jardim said to reporters Monday. “We finished top of the group, we played and beat Arsenal in the last 16, so I think we deserve the respect to be seen as a big team."
“We deserve to be here and we deserve respect. We have quality and we know what a difficult game this will be”
Currently third on the Ligue 1 table and only four points back of leaders Paris Saint-Germain, Monaco are led by forwards Dimitar Berbatov and Anthony Martial, both of whom have scored seven domestic goals this season. Top playmaker and midfielder Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco has picked up eight assists.
However, there will be some questions about depth in Monaco’s attacking, especially against a ceaseless Juve side. Striker Lacina Traore has already been ruled out due to injury, leaving Valere Germain and Matheus Carvalho as Jardim’s main relief options down the stretch.
Kickoff Time: 2:45 p.m. ET
TV Channel: Fox Sports 2
Prediction: Juventus over Monaco, 2-1