Monaco head coach Leonardo Jardim says his side will need to play the “perfect match” if they are to overcome a 1-0 deficit to progress past Juventus into the Champions League semifinals. A controversial penalty converted by Arturo Vidal gave the Italian champions a narrow win in the first leg in Turin, leaving Monaco with it all to do in Wednesday’s return at the Stade Louis II.
With the prospect of an away goal for Juventus meaning Monaco needing to score three times, Jardim knows there is little margin for error.
“We need to have the perfect match, with good defensive organization and a clinical edge in attack,” he said in his pre-match press conference, according to UEFA’s official website. “We tend to score more away and I would like us to start doing the same at home.
“We will take some calculated risks to go through. We will play intelligently and aim to score goals without conceding. We have to keep calm heads, though. We like playing in full stadiums, it gives us more motivation. But let's not forget that there will be Juventus fans here as well.”
If Monaco are to progress, they will have to do something they have done just three times in four Champions League homes games this season -- score a goal. Having dramatically scaled back their lavish project last summer and allowed star names Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez to depart, Jardim has steadied the ship thanks to an approach based on defensive solidity and taking their chances on the counter attack. The first goals they conceded at home in this European campaign came when Arsenal secured a 2-0 win in the Round of 16 but fell short of overturning Monaco’s 3-1 win in London. But ahead of their quest to book a spot in the Champions League’s final four for the first time since they reached the final in 2004, they suffered an ominous setback when conceding a late equalizer to Rennes in Ligue 1 on Saturday.
In contrast, Juventus stretched their lead at the top of Serie A to 15 points, and moved ever nearer to a fourth straight title, with a 2-0 win over second-placed Lazio. But having dominated the domestic scene, the chief task for first-season coach Massimiliano Allegri is to get Juventus back to the business end of Europe’s premier competition. Juventus have now gone 12 years since reaching the Champions League semifinals, and are still seeking their first appearance in the post-Calciopoli era. In order to get there, though, former Milan head coach Allegri is expecting a closely fought second leg in the principality.
“I don't know for certain what Monaco's tactics will be, but we will try to score as we know what they're about,” he said. “Monaco are a team that defend well and are physically very strong, so it will be a difficult game, just like the first leg.
“It could come down to the finer details. We are in the quarter-finals, we have a chance of going through, and whether we do or not depends on ourselves. We are not that far into the competition yet; we can go even further. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.”
Juventus have been given a boost by first-leg goalscorer Vidal returning to training ahead of the game after recovering from tonsillitis. The two-time European champions will, though, again be missing French midfielder Paul Pogba. Monaco have no new injury worries, and are set to bring defenders Aymen Abdennour and Layvin Kurzawa into the starting lineup after both sat out the weekend draw with Rennes.
Kickoff time: 2:45 p.m. ET
TV channel: Fox Sports 2