Juventus delivered a professional performance in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final tie to beat AS Monaco by a 2-0 scoreline.
The Ligue 1 side have been the surprise team in this year’s competition, but it was clear on Wednesday that they didn’t have the experience of the talent of Max Allegri’s side.
The Old Lady triumphed thanks to a Gonzalo Higuain goal in either half, with the Argentine silencing those that doubt his ability to perform in the big matches.
Here are three things we learned at the Stade Louis II…
Juventus have one foot in the final
After the incredible display from Real Madrid last night, the focus was on Juventus to prove they are real contenders to win the Champions League and they did just that.
Monaco have one of the best attacks in Europe, but the Serie A leaders were organised and conceded few clear-cut chances during the game. On the rare occasions they were cut open, Gigi Buffon proved why he is one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time with some superb saves.
This team is like a well-oiled machine and on the evidence of tonight, it is clear that they are one of the best teams in Europe.
In attack, the Old Lady have some excellent players and they will always create chances.
Paulo Dybala was great to watch as he was floating across the frontline and linking up superbly with Dani Alves down the right-hand side.
The first goal is one of the best team goals of the season, as it involved two backheels before Higuain fired into the net.
After coming so close to winning the Champions League in 2015, they have continued to improve the starting eleven and they should be favourites heading into the final if they qualify as expected.
Kylian Mbappe showed why he is the most exciting player in Europe
Monaco may have lost on Wednesday, but Kylian Mbappe enhanced his reputation once again with a very impressive performance.
Although he didn’t manage to get on the score-sheet, his movement caused the Juventus defence a lot of problems.
He had two great chances in the first-half. The first came when he got in behind the defence, but he struggled to generate the power required on his headed effort. The second came minutes later as he forced a good save from Buffon.
Despite being only 18, the Frenchman caused a lot of problems for one of the best defences in Europe and that underlined the ability he possesses. There would have been a lot of clubs watching him on Wednesday to see how he performed against a world class team and he did very well.
He completed four dribbles during the match and looked threatening when he reached top speed. It is his movement that is most impressive as he is always in the right place at the right time.
If he delivers a similar performance in the second leg, he will almost certainly be set for a move in the summer to one of the biggest clubs in Europe.
Gonzalo Higuain finally delivered in a big game
The Argentine has been criticised over the last few years as he has consistently failed to score goals in big matches. There were key chances that he spurned in the World Cup and Copa America final, which led to many doubting his mentality to produce on the biggest stage.
However, he was the star on Wednesday as he scored twice to put his side in a dominant position. Both goals showed his clinical finishing and they were his first in the Champions League knockout rounds, which puts an end to another unwanted record.
After his incredible record-breaking season with Napoli last year, the only thing missing from Higuain’s career were major trophies.
He has missed out on three occasions with Argentina and he looks determined to make up for that by winning the Champions League this season. The striker won three La Ligas with Real Madrid, but he wasn’t a regular in the team.
To consolidate his position as one of the best strikers in Europe, he needs to fire a team to a major trophy. He was excellent against Monaco and now has momentum to take into the rest of the competition.
Featured image: All rights reserved by oimoko0114
Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Juventus: Three talking points from Wembley
Tottenham bowed out of Europe against an experienced Juventus side.
Tottenham Hotspur crashed out of the Champions League after Juventus produced an inspired fightback to progress to the quarter-finals. The in-form Son Heung-min had put Spurs 3-2 ahead on aggregate shortly before the interval, but two goals in three second-half minutes changed the complexion of the tie.
First, Gonzalo Higuain stabbed home the equaliser before Paulo Dybala completed the comeback with a delicate finish. Harry Kane hit the post in the dying moments, but Spurs’ exit at the hands of last season’s runners-up was confirmed as they failed to score a second goal. Here are three talking points from Wembley Stadium..
Max Allegri outfoxes his Tottenham counterpart
So poor were Juventus in the first half that they were fortunate to be only one goal behind on the night and still in the tie. There was no indication of what was to come, as Max Allegri’s side transformed the match in the second period. At the final whistle, the Juve boss headed straight down the tunnel instead of venturing on to the pitch to celebrate with his players. But it was his tactical switch that paved the way for their victory.
With an hour on the clock, on came Kwadwo Asamoah and Stephan Lichtsteiner, who injected much-needed pace and guile. The visitors changed formation and suddenly they were getting in between the lines, with Dybala becoming much more effective. Within minutes, Juve were 2-1 ahead and in their element. Once in front, they managed the game brilliantly and didn’t look like conceding. Mauricio Pochettino, who could only stand and watch it all unfold, had been outwitted by the master.
Future looks bright despite heartbreaking exit
Disappointment may be the overriding emotion for all involved at Tottenham right now, but once the dust has settled they should look back at their Champions League adventure with pride. For this was the season they arrived as a major force on the European stage. Victories over Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in a group they topped were huge fillips and evidence of their continued progress under Pochettino.
Spurs were unlucky to be drawn against a club of Juventus’ pedigree in the last 16 and it was the Italians’ knowhow that paid dividends in the heat of the battle. The hosts looked a little naive, but the experience will benefit them in the future. Tottenham are odds-on to finish in the top four and thereby qualify for the Champions League again next season. Should Pochettino be given the funds to invest in his squad this summer, the club’s fans can look forward to more nights under the spotlight.
In-form Son strikes again for Spurs
The South Korean, who was given the nod ahead of Erik Lamela in the starting line-up, vindicated his selection with the opening goal at Wembley. Son had already gone close to breaking the deadlock and was causing Andrea Barzagli all sorts of problems with his marauding runs. There was more than a touch of fortune about the goal, which rebounded off his left leg and wrong-footed veteran keeper Gianluigi Buffon, but it was no less than the Spurs forward deserved.
Son came close to levelling the tie in the latter stages but, ultimately, it was to be neither his nor Tottenham’s night. With 16 goals in all competitions this season, the 25-year-old is making a big impression. He was the home side’s most potent attacking force, upstaging both Kane and Dele Alli at Wembley. Son has finally established himself in the starting XI and Spurs fans will hope he can continue to ease the goalscoring burden on Kane.
Juventus eye up Chelsea’s Gary Cahill as a replacement for Leonardo Bonucci – Should they let him go?
In a surprising news item, The Sun claim that Juventus could look to Chelsea to replace Leonardo Bonucci after the Italian’s move to AC Milan and may target Gary Cahill as a replacement.
The Chelsea captain is currently serving a three game suspension after his red card on the opening day, but the Italian club may be hoping that he has played his last game for the Blues. They are reportedly prepared to spend as much as £16.5 million to bring him to the Juventus Stadium.
That could be tempting for Chelsea given that Cahill is 31-years-old and undoubtedly past his best. With a number of young defenders coming through, including the likes of Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen, it could be tempting to cash in on Cahill and give more opportunities for them to develop.
His rash challenge against Burnley also left his team in the lurch and critics have claimed that it was symbolic of how out of depth the former Bolton man is as captain of the Premier League champions. With mounting pressure, he will need to be up to scratch when under scrutiny more than anyone.
However, Cahill was only recently appointed captain and it would send out entirely the wrong message if he was to be sold now. After a disastrous transfer window so far, it would not only be a psychological blow to lose the club captain, but would also leave Antonio Conte with less than a week to replace him.
His experience is also invaluable. Whilst the likes of Christensen may be knocking on the door of the starting line-up, he will need experienced heads like Cahill’s in and around him to help his development to reach his full potential as a Chelsea player in the years to come.
It could be tempting for Chelsea to allow Cahill to move on, and had this move have happened in June, it may well stand a chance of happening. Now with the season under way and only a matter of days away from the transfer window closing, it would be an incomprehensible decision if Chelsea do sell their captain.
Claudio Marchisio linked to Chelsea – what would he bring?
Chelsea are likely to be active until the final days of the transfer window as they look to add quality and depth to their squad. Antonio Conte currently lacks options outside of his starting eleven and competition is needed if they are to successfully defend their title. Gazzetta dello Sport report that the Italian is interested in signing Claudio Marchisio, who he has worked closely with before.
The midfielder is understood to be unhappy at Juventus due to being a bit-part player under the current regime. Ahead of the World Cup, he wants to play regular first team football and could be prepared to force a move before the transfer window closes. The Serie A champions already have a lot of players in the position and have recently bought Blaise Matuidi, which further limit the minutes that Marchisio is likely to be given.
What would he bring to Stamford Bridge?
The Blues have been criticised for their lack of ambition and poor squad planning this summer, but those will quickly be brushed to one side if they can land Marchisio. Despite having an underwhelming 2016/17 campaign, the midfielder is still regarded as a great player and it would send a statement to the rest of the division if Chelsea manage to bring him to the Premier League.
There is already a working relationship between Marchisio and Conte, which would mean that he would be able to adapt quickly to the style at Chelsea. He understands what it requires to be successful in a team managed by his fellow Italian, while the Blues’ manager trusts the midfielder. That can’t be said about certain other players currently at Stamford Bridge.
It has already been evident that Chelsea are short in central midfield as they resorted to playing David Luiz there at the weekend. The Brazilian played well, but it underlined the squad problems that the club have. Marchisio is disciplined and capable of carrying out a specific role in the team, which appeals to Conte. He can be a creative presence from deep and offers more than Cesc Fabregas does in terms of defensive work. It would be a smart signing if the Blues can pull it off.
How likely is a deal?
Juventus have already lost two important players this summer in Dani Alves and Leonardo Bonucci. It would be a surprise if they also let Marchisio leave the club. The midfielder could force the issue, but unless Chelsea submit a huge offer, a transfer looks unlikely at this late stage of the window. Conte will want to add another central midfielder, but there are other positions that are viewed as a bigger priority.
Are Manchester United finding form at the perfect time?
Derby defeat to Cheltenham highlights wider issues for Swindon Town
Sevilla triumph will have Everton fans regretting Steven N’Zonzi failure
Brendan Rodgers should finally get Kyriakos Papadopoulos this summer
Amadou Haidara released by Leeds United, bringing an end to bizarre transfer chapter
Tottenham Hotspur2 weeks ago
Tottenham Hotspur must push Toby Alderweireld toward Barcelona
Liverpool2 weeks ago
Jurgen Klopp’s brave January decision is playing off thanks to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Brentford3 weeks ago
Romaine Sawyers – Blossoming in the Championship with play-off contenders Brentford
Liverpool4 weeks ago
Roberto Firmino: His performances will shape the end to Liverpool’s season
Liverpool3 weeks ago
Mohamed Salah: Is Liverpool’s Egyptian star the best player in the world right now?
Chelsea4 weeks ago
Chelsea 4-0 Hull City – Willian plays himself into Champions League contention
Liverpool2 weeks ago
Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold finds himself at the centre of Jurgen Klopp’s plans
English Premier League2 weeks ago
Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle United: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain growing into role under Jurgen Klopp