WILLIE DUNCAN (@Willie_Duncan) previews the second leg of the Champions League semi-final tie between Juventus and Monaco from Turin.
Juventus v Monaco | Tuesday 19:45 | BT Sport
Chelsea are closing in on the Premier League title, but manager Antonio Conte claimed that he had better things to do than watch Tottenham’s trip to West Ham on Friday night.
It is reasonable to wonder, though, whether Conte will allow himself the luxury of putting his feet up and watching his old club, Juventus, as they bid to reach the Champions League final.
It’s certainly looking good for the Old Lady, for the team from Turin were at their brilliant best in establishing a 2-0 first leg lead against Leonardo Jardim’s Monaco in France last week. It would take a brave punter to back against the Serie A side sealing their place in next month’s final ahead of Tuesday’s tussle.
Old Lady on top
Juventus, of course, boast plenty of quality in the final third of the pitch, with rising star Paulo Dybala grabbing plenty of goals – and headlines – for Massimiliano Allegri’s team so far this season – not least when Juventus enjoyed a sensational 3-0 hammering of Barcelona the last time that they played on their own patch in this competition.
It would be remiss to overlook, too, the contribution of Dybala’s international team-mate, Gonzalo Higuain, in Juventus’ success story this season; the striker has scored nine goals in his last nine games for Allegri’s men – including both goals against Monaco last week.
Rock-solid at the back
It is in defence, though, that Juventus are a class apart from many teams on the continent; in recording a clean sheet against Monaco last week, the Italians recorded a sixth successive shutout in the Champions League, with Dinamo Zagreb, Porto and Barcelona (twice each) and, of course, Monaco unable to find a way through.
The clean sheet in Monaco was all the more impressive, for it marked the first time since November 2015 that Leonardo Jardim’s team had failed to find the net in a home fixture in any competition.
Juventus can call upon the services of a superbly experienced defensive unit, with the irrepressible Gianluigi Buffon in goal and their familiar back three of Chiellini, Barzagli and Bonucci – all four men were a key ingredient of Italy’s run to the European Championship quarter-finals last summer; panic, therefore, is unlikely to set in and Juventus should see the tie out in comfort.
The betting angle
Monaco’s Radamel Falcao sees weakness, citing that Atalanta scored twice against Juventus, but the former Manchester United and Chelsea striker may well be alone in thinking that there is a glaring chink in the Old Lady’s armour.
Juventus have won nine and drawn two of their 11 semi-final ties on home soil in this competition and even for a Monaco side that scored six against both Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund, this looks to be a bridge too far.
Value, therefore, lies in backing the home side to win ‘to nil’ at 19/10 with Unibet ahead of Tuesday’s tussle.
Juventus v Monaco – Juventus to win ‘to nil’ (19/10 Unibet)