For all the abundant promise in this Monaco side, I can’t see past Juventus over two legs. Promise doesn’t always come to fruition, especially not in a competition like the Champions League, and with the way Juve are drilled, the way they are organized at the back, and the way they are so impressive in attack, they will have too much for Monaco.
I’ve said from the start that I fancied Juventus to win the Champions League this season. The semi-final first leg is away, but having their own home stadium has been a big factor in their success up to this point. They’ve won their past 17 games at home in all competitions, and every home match in Serie A. 'Fortress' doesn’t do it justice. Added to that is their very talented squad and a manager in Massimiliano Allegri who knows how to get the best out of them.
Where I think Allegri was really clever when taking the job – after Antonio Conte had left to take charge of Italy – was realising that not a lot was broken. He didn’t meddle too much: he retained and protected the work ethic instilled under Conte and made a few tweaks. Some managers want to put their own stamp on things but he was more intelligent than that.
He inherited the magnificent core of Leonardo Bonucci, Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini and they are already one of the great all-time defensive units, up there with the AC Milan trio of Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi and Alessandro Costacurta – or Arsenal’s famous back four plus David Seaman – and a Champions League win would put the cherry on top of the cake. They are just fantastic. Not many teams go to Camp Nou and come away with a clean sheet, and never even look like conceding.
Players also perform for Allegri. Mario Mandzukic is playing out wide, in a foreign position, but he is working so, so hard for his team and for his manager. He gets up and down the touchline and was excellent in helping to keep Barcelona at bay. But every single player who is in that Juve team plays up and down: and you don’t really get that in many other places. No one slacks off.
Juventus’s best teams have always been very efficient and they have played with a certain style. Allegri’s team are certainly in that tradition and in terms of the European game at the moment, they are absolutely top drawer.
Read the full article on eurosport.co.uk: Monaco hype is overblown - it's Juventus who have it all