Football

Will Monaco's attack be enough to break Juventus' tight defence?

Monaco hotshot Mbappe raring to go up against Juventus' veteran goalkeeper Buffon

SEMI-FINAL, 1ST LEG
MONACO JUVENTUS

Monaco have scored plenty of goals this season, but that might not be enough to break down the defensive wall of Juventus in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final clash tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

The French side boast one of European football's most exciting newcomers in striker Kylian Mbappe, who has scored 18 goals in his last 18 competitive games, including three in the 6-3 aggregate win over Borussia Dortmund in the last eight.

The 18-year-old pacy forward provides a symbol for the rise of a fine counter-attacking team featuring other dangerous players such as Colombian marksman Radamel Falcao.

But it takes more than that to impress Juventus, who own the tightest defence in Europe's top club competition with just two goals conceded in this campaign.

Mbappe is looking forward to facing one of the world's best goalkeepers - Gianluigi Buffon.

Despite the 21-year age gap between the pair, both are seeking to win the competition for the first time in their careers, with Buffon a runner-up with Juve in 2002/03 and 2014/15.

"He is a goalkeeper who has made his mark in history, one of the best in the world," Mbappe told Uefa's official website.

"You work every day to play against players like him.

"When you do, you want to give your best to beat them.

"They're a great team, and they eliminated Barcelona, who were also among the favourites.

"They showed they have what it takes to win the competition. But we also have qualities and we'll do everything we can to get to the final."

Buffon, 39, made his Serie A debut with Parma over three years before Mbappe was born, but he finds it exciting to come up against the French starlet so early in his career.

"Mbappe is an incredible talent and I think he seems like a good boy. That will help him a lot in his career, which I hope is very bright," Buffon told Uefa's website.

"If that is the case, he will not have such a strong need to go through against us - he will have many other opportunities in the future to win the Champions League," quipped the Italian veteran.

Mbappe is not the only Monaco player out to prove a point against Juventus.

CROCKED HAS-BEEN

Dismissed as a crocked has-been after a disastrous spell in England with Manchester United and Chelsea, Falcao will savour the Champions League anthem more than most before tomorrow morning's match.

The 31-year-old striker has netted 28 goals in all competitions for Monaco and has now scored 45 in 50 European appearances, putting him ahead of German great Gerd Mueller as the most prolific player ever in continental competition.

Falcao believes that Monaco can beat Juventus to qualify for the final.

"It's true that Barcelona were unable to score a goal against them, but Atalanta put two past them," said the Colombian.

"In football, anything is possible."

Juventus, who advanced to the last four with an aggregate 3-0 win over Barca, were held to a 2-2 draw at Atalanta in a rare defensive mix-up in Serie A last Saturday.

Their pedigree and record for being impregnable when it matters, however, suggest Juventus should be regarded as the favourites.

"Monaco have technical and tactical qualities as well as talented young players," Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri said.

"They do not have the same history as Juventus, but that does not mean it will be easy for us to make it to the final."

Monaco defender Kamil Glik insists that their attack will be key to beating Juventus.

Said the former Torino centre back: "I think the attacking phase will be important for us, you don't score 150 goals for nothing.

"For Juventus, the crucial thing will be organisation." - WIRE SERVICES

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