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Juventus won 2-0 in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals last night at Stade Louis II after a convincing display.
However, it could easily go the other way if the hosts converted a few chances early in the game, but Gianluigi Buffon kept his net intact yet again.
We are looking at three things that helped the Old Lady to record a massive win last night.
Benjamin Mendy’s absence
Monaco’s head coach Leonardo Jardim opted to exclude the French international from the clash and that decision turned out to be costly for the Portuguese tactician.
The reason for Mendy’s omission is not quite clear; it’s certainly not an injury-related issue, but various reports said that Jardim didn’t include him due to unprofessional behaviour.
The manager’s decision directly influenced the course of the game as Juventus scored both goals from the right flank, where the talented left back should play instead of Djibril Sidibe, who couldn’t cope with the likes of Dani Alves and Paulo Dybala.
But let’s not downplay Alves’ enormous impact as he dominated the game and recorded two assists; serving the ball on the silver plate to Gonzalo Higuain on both occasions.
The Brazilian now has 25 assists in the elite European competition, which took him to the second place on all-time rankings, only four behind Cristiano Ronaldo, but two ahead of Leo Messi.
Gonzalo Higuain’s clinical finishing
Juventus didn’t create plenty of goal-scoring opportunities but as they usually do, the Italians converted two of them and scored a pair of goals thanks to Higuain’s composure and calmness in front of the goal.
The Dybala-Alves-Higuain connection was deserving for both Juventus goals, and although the former Napoli striker failed to hit the target in the previous matches of the knockout stage, this brace is vital for his team’s route to the finals in Cardiff.
On the other end, Kylian Mbappe and Radamel Falcao weren’t lucky enough to beat the legendary Gigi Buffon, especially the teenage sensation who had an excellent chance early in the game.
Buffon’s authority in the box and Juve’s rock-solid defence
Once again, the well-organized defence defeated one of the highest-scoring offensive lines in Europe and not even allowed them a single goal.
It seems that only Juve can do it with experienced Buffon at the helm, who flawlessly did his job and after keeping a clean sheet against powerful Barcelona in the previous round, he successfully stopped Mbappe-Falcao tandem which combined 52 goals this season.
Bonucci, Barzagli, and Chiellini were outstanding at the back as always, helping their iconic goalkeeper to remain unbeaten in the knockout phase.
Let’s remind ourselves that Juve conceded only two goals so far in the Champions League, both in the group stage of the competition.
The fairytale may have come to an end
We saw plenty of football-related miracles in the past year or so, but it’s virtually impossible to expect Monaco’s comeback in the second leg which will be played in Turin.
Monaco is the most pleasant surprise in this year’s competition, but it looks like their fairytale ended last night.
Written by Oliver Zivic
Follow Oliver on Twitter @guli86
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