How did Juventus easily contain Monaco’s dangerous strike force on Wednesday night, right on their home soil in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semi final?
A pundit told UEFA last night, flexibility was the key to Juventus Coach Massimiliano Allegri team formation during the match.
Juventus formation several times during the game. Allegri began with a 4-2-3-1 but also switched at certain intervals to 3-4-3 and 4-4-2.
“What does not change, however, is his side’s defensive solidity. The Bianconeri are yet to be breached in the knockout rounds, having remained watertight since Nicolás Pareja’s strike for Sevilla on matchday five (which amounts to 621 minutes)”, said Paolo Menicucci, a Juventus reporter.
Rumours of a surprise in Juve’s line-up began earlier Wednesday afternoon and were confirmed when the starting XI was announced.
Allegri went for the tried-and-tested Andrea Barzagli in defence, for two reasons: to strengthen the back line against Monaco’s dangerous attack and to give more freedom for Dani Alves to attack down the right. The latter, in particular, was a lethal move with the former Barcelona man providing both assists for Higuaín’s goals.
After all the deserved plaudits for Monaco’s offensive play, Leonardo Jardim’s men found themselves stuck on 146 goals in all competitions for the season as Buffon’s goal proved as unbreachable for them as it had been for Barcelona in the quarter-finals.
Given the form they had been in, it was strange to see Mbappé and Falcao spurn a couple of presentable chances apiece. Mbappé was Monaco’s most dangerous forward yet failed to score for the first time when starting a UEFA Champions League fixture.
The man of the night, Argentine and Juventus hitman Gonzalo Higuaín, who recorded a brace, wrapped up his stellar performance with a quote from another famous striker, Ruud van Nistelrooy.
“During a period where I didn’t score, he used to tell me that goals are like ketchup. You try, but it doesn’t come out. And when it comes out, it all does at once.”
The Argentinian had only ever scored two goals in the UEFA Champions League knockout stage before Wednesday’s match. Yet he broke the deadlock on 29 minutes and half an hour later he had his second, doubling his knockout tally and marking this semi-final with two big dollops of ketchup.
And it was Monaco 0 and Juventus 2, with a return match billed for Turin next week Tuesday.