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UEFA Champions League Semifinal – Monaco vs Juventus Betting Preview

Juventus(27-3-4) @ Monaco(26-5-3)

  • Where: Stade Louis II. Monaco
  • When: May 3, 2017 2:45 pm EST
  • Spread: Monaco - Pick (+115) vs Juventus - Pick (-140)
  • Moneyline: Monaco (+225) vs Juventus (-275)
  • Over / Under: Over 2 1/2 (-105) vs Under 2 1/2 (-115)

Before the 2017 Champions League knockout phase could begin, Juventus VP Pavel Nedved spoke with confidence about his side, offering that if the team played its own game and took every opponent seriously then they could expect results.

It sounded like such tedious, cliche patter coming from a club figurehead that we figured Pavel was just happy to have a beneficial draw.

But by now, it’s looking more and more like he meant every word.

Pioneering a fresh style of defence, Juve is the only squad of 16 yet to give up a goal in the 2017 Champions League knockout stage – and we’re four legs in. In fact, no side in the tournament has come close to the strangling efficiency of the Old Lady. Juventus’ semi-final opponent Monaco has given up nine goals in a tournament full of explosive scoring.

That doesn’t mean the Red and Whites must be counted out of it. In the quarterfinals, Monaco faced Borussia Dortmund, a stubborn side who gave up one lonely goal in two legs in the Round of 16. But the Germans were blown off the pitch by the Mediterranean upstarts, with 18 year-old Monaco star Kylian Mbappe scoring three goals in a 3-2, 3-1 = 6-3 match result.

Well, we already know how South American fans of “The Beautiful Game” will be betting. But for sake of the rest of the world, let’s take a look at the odds and match-up of Juventus vs Monaco in the 2017 UEFA Champions League semi-final.

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Monaco – The irresistible force

Despite a collection of young talent that could dominate many international U-20 tournaments, the French club is a (+225) money line underdog to qualify. That can only be ascribed to the squad’s unproven value on such an elevated stage.

Monaco is being taken lightly despite a +66 goal differential in France, a 13-game winning streak at the Stade Louis II, and an acknowledgement that Mbappe will soon be one of the richest young men in European club soccer.

It’s true that teenage stars can get sleepy near the end of grueling competition. Veterans like Ramadel Falcao, who has scored in bunches this season, will need to step up and provide additional striking. Healthy speed at mid-field will create chances for players like Almamy Toure, Benjamin Mendy and Bernardo Silva to join the attack. Thomas Lemar has also been praised for his quintet of assists in the knockout phase. But can the side be trusted to mind its own goal?

Juventus – The immovable object

In a profile for UEFA’s website, David Crossan calls the Monaco club “swashbuckling” and a side that should fear no one in the final four. Ironically, a type of expertly-channeled fear could be the underdog’s undoing. Their opponent plays defence as if chasing down a purse-snatcher.

Juventus is playing a new 4-2-3-1 system that allows for brilliant flexibility and swarming, run-down defense that reminds ice hockey fans of “back-cheque” tactics. La Vecchia Signora plays with enthusiasm and teamwork on offence, but the pressure doesn’t end with a possession change. Opposing forwards and midfielders have been shocked at the confusing defensive pursuit that has helped legendary Juve keeper Gianluigi Buffon give up nary a goal in four legs.

And when a tired back-end gives up the ball, Juventus has the strikers to take advantage. Shutting down the side’s top three or four forwards has often been called “one of the toughest challenges in football.” Paulo Dybala played like a rising superstar against Barcelona, and Miralem Pjanić is firmly in his prime.

What if Monaco wins the first tie?

A startling first-leg run at an upset would likely make the betting board go bananas in Monaco’s direction, as bookies will credit old-guard bias with having installed Juve as a heavy favourite.

But any wager in those circumstances is volatile, as Monaco does not have an air-tight defence to fall back on. The Red and Whites are as likely to give up three goals-against in a half as they are to play impeccably and seal the deal.

A better value-bet could come about if there is a draw in the first leg. Playing at home, Monaco could manage one more dramatic effort before slowing down in Italy. But if the score stands at 1-1 or 2-2, odds for a money line wager on the Juventus to advance could offer a reasonable payoff as bettors race to buy-in on Monaco’s flash.

The Old Lady sings

In a recent World Championship ice hockey final, Canada and Russia were poised for an ultra-showdown. But Russia’s best skater got tired along with his teammates. A great team can get tired and still survive – just not against Team Canada and its relentless “back-chequing” pursuit.

Juve brings a similar, fanatical tempo and pursuit of the ball to football. Monaco is an exciting side full of promise, but that doesn’t mean this particular match-up suits them.

We recommend a money line bet on Juventus to qualify for the final in Cardiff. When young legs start to weaken, the Italians will steal and counter-attack to foil the newcomers.

Meanwhile if the first leg is a draw, let the hype for Monaco build – and then make a smart wager on Juventus to prevail on May 9th.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.


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