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Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Juve wall unlikely to be breached at home fortress

Turin trip much too difficult for Monaco in Champions League semi-final

Gianluigi Buffon celebrates Juventus's first-leg win at Monaco
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Champions League semi-final second leg
BT Sport 2, 7.45pm Tuesday

Tasks don't come much more difficult than the assignment facing Monaco in their Champions League semi-final second leg away to Juventus as they look to overturn a 2-0 deficit.

The Juventus Stadium has become a fortress for the Turin team, who last suffered a home defeat in August 2015, while before Saturday's 1-1 derby draw with Torino Max Allegri's side had won 33 straight Serie A contests in front of their own supporters.

And the bad omens for Monaco don't end there. The Bianconeri are on a 22-match unbeaten European run at home - Bayern Munich were the last side to lower Juve's colours on home soil in April 2013.

That was also the last time Juventus lost a home match by more than one goal in any competition and this ultra-experienced, defensively savvy side should book their spot in next month's final in Cardiff.

Juventus have conceded two goals at home only twice in their last 56 matches - against Bayern in a 2-2 draw and a 3-2 Coppa Italia triumph over Atalanta - and on neither occasion were they protecting an advantage, which will be the case in this second leg.

Allegri showed his tactical nous in last week's first leg as he switched to a back three to allow extra cover against Monaco's exceptional attacking qualities, with Andrea Barzagli drafted in alongside Italian international colleagues Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.

Behind them stands keeper Gigi Buffon, the 39-year-old veteran who won't get many better opportunities to break his Champions League duck than with this Juve side, who are aiming for a treble this season.

Barcelona's brilliant front three could not find a path to goal in the quarter-finals and last week's clean sheet was the sixth in succession for Juventus, who have gone 621 minutes without conceding in the Champions League.

Juventus are solid in midfield, dynamic in attack, where Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala combine so beautifully, and still possess players who can do something out of the ordinary like Dani Alves.

It all adds up to a daunting 90 minutes for Monaco, particularly as Juve are happy to put men behind the ball and wait for their moment to strike. With that in mind, taking the first goal to come after 24 minutes may provide the best interest.

Monaco's 3-0 win at Nancy on Saturday was the 27th time this season they had scored at least three goals in a game and in Kylian Mbappe they possess football's most exciting teenage talent.

Bernardo Silva has also impressed in this fabulous run to the semi-finals but as they go chasing the game it is likely that Higuain will punish them just as he did - twice - in the first leg.

Time of first goal after 24 minutes
1pt 10-11 Paddy Power

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Team news
Sami Khedira returns from suspension but Marko Pjaca and Daniele Rugani remain sidelined.

Ace left-back Benjamin Mendy returns to the squad after missing the first leg.

Key stat
Juventus have conceded just twice in ten Champions League games this season and none from open play.

Juventus have gone 621 minutes without conceding in the Champions League
E.W. Terms
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