Juventus booked their place in the 2017 UEFA Champions League final after a 2-1 (4-1) win over Monaco at the Juventus Stadium.
This was a simple stroll into the Champions League final, with a 4-1 aggregate defeat of Monaco that barely covers their all-aspects superiority over three hours of football.
This was Monaco, the team who have lit up this season’s Champions League and knocked out Tottenham Hotspur, Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City with their unstoppable attacking football. They have scored 150 goals in all competitions this season and are about to win the French title. In Kylian Mbappe and Bernardo Silva they have the two best young players in Europe.
But in both Italy, and at the Stade Louis II last week, Juventus made them look like boys against men. After winning the first leg with incisive ruthlessness, Juventus saw out the second leg with control and authority. They weathered an early storm then got their grip on the game and scored two goals of brilliant quality.
By that point Monaco needed four to go through and while they managed one, from Mbappe, there was never any doubt Juventus were heading to Cardiff. That goal may have robbed this performance of its perfection, but Juventus still did more than enough. They can still consider themselves the most complete team there is, in all aspects of the game, and they have an excellent chance of ending their 20-year drought in this competition on June 3.
Monaco knew how hard their task was. Only one team has ever lost by two goals at home and then gone through, and that was Ajax in 1969, and they needed a play-off on neutral ground to do it. But this was still a Champions League semi-final, and what could Monaco do but try?
A goal felt inevitable and it came from another brilliant break. The ball went from Dybala to Marchisio to Alves who swung a perfect cross round the back of the Monaco defence. Up popped Mandzukic at the far post. His header was saved so he lifted the rebound in the roof of the net.
More noise followed with more attacks and in the last minute of the half Juventus scored again. Danijel Subasic punched out a corner but it fell to Alves, 25 yards out. The Brazilian is in sublime form, playing a part in every Juve goal over both semi-final legs.
Dani Alves in the Champions League this season:
30 chances created
22 successful crosses
21 tackles won
Master of all. pic.twitter.com/5kauWQvk0n
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 10, 2017
In the second half, it was Mbappe who continued to cause Juventus more problems than anyone else. He raced in behind and forced a sharp Buffon save at the near post. When Monaco forced a corner, Moutinho burst in down the left and rolled a pass across to Mbappe. He darted in at the near post and tapped the ball in past Buffon, to at least give Juventus something to think about.
Juventus haven’t lost at home since August 2015:
51 games unbeaten 😳🇮🇹👏 pic.twitter.com/ub6yqjRprL
— The Top Bet (@thetopbet) May 9, 2017
But Juventus have won five Serie A titles in a row and are aiming for their sixth by getting a result at Roma on Sunday. They know how to see out leads and after Mbappe’s goal they simply killed the game. They will need their energy in Rome, but beyond that, in Cardiff.