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Juventus 1-0 AS Monaco: Arturo Vidal's penalty gives Bianconeri slim lead after first leg

Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Prior to Juventus and AS Monaco's quarterfinal showdown, both sides possessed two of the best defensive records in the Champions League. However, of the teams that qualified for the knockout round, Leonardo Jardim's side scored the least amount of goals in the competition. Therefore, the Bianconeri's narrow one goal victory was unsurprising.

Jardim persisted with a variation of a 4-2-3-1 with Fabinho replacing the injured Jeremy Toulalan to join Geoffrey Kondogbia in the double-pivot, while Joao Moutinho sat slightly behind Anthony Martial to shadow Andrea Pirlo, and help the striker press from the front. It was evident from the first whistle that Monaco aimed to play on the break.

Despite a positive Juventus start inspired by Carlos Tevez, the home side encountered difficulties bypassing Monaco's midfield block. Juve's attacking players were unable to receive the ball between the lines, get behind Monaco's back four, and their passing across the pitch was shockingly underwhelming. Certainly Monaco's discipline and organization was a key component to Juve's first half issues, but their transitional defending was worrying throughout.

On paper, Berbatov's exclusion provided Jardim with a pacy front trio, and they constantly exposed Juve's leggy back-line. Giorgio Chiellini, nor Leonardo Bonucci are renowned for their speed, and with full-backs Stephan Lichtsteiner and Patrice Evra eager to join the attack, simple long balls into the channels ignited quick counter attacks.

In the opening 10 minutes both Martial and Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco got the better of Bonucci down the left, with the latter receiving the best chance to open the scoring, but he fired a low effort directly at Gianluigi Buffon. Carrasco was a nuisance throughout, and his clipped ball into the left channel nearly saw Chiellini concede a penalty on Martial. The Portuguese winger also created Monaco's best chance in the second half, sending substitute Bernardo Silva free on goal, but Buffon comfortably pushed his near post effort aside.

Meanwhile, Juve's sloppy passing — particularly Pirlo in the first half — enabled the away side to quickly facilitate the ball into attacking areas, but they failed to monopolize their chances and missed the target on each attempt. Juve's territorial dominance forced Monaco to defend without the ball for large portions of the match, but their pace and ability to repeatedly capitalize on sloppy passes in central areas should have resulted in goals.

Juve's difficulty in open play was also interesting. While Pereyra's running and Tevez's incisive passing didn't break lines, Allegri's side relied on lofted balls from deep areas to fluster the Monaco back-line. Frankly, apart from optimistic shots from distance, the home side's best chances stemmed from this route of attack.

First, Pirlo dinked a ball towards the far post for Morata, but he skied his shot over the net. Shortly afterwards, Marchisio's delivery towards the far post fell to an unmarked Tevez, but the Argentine fired a tame effort on goal. With minutes to spare in the first, it was Vidal who received a stunning pass from Tevez, but the Chilean's wayward shot from inside the box flew wide.

The buildup to the winner, though, epitomized Juve's threat in these areas. Pirlo was gifted enough space to launch the perfect ball over the top for Morata, who was subsequently clipped down by Ricardo Carvalho, thus resulting in a penalty - which in fairness was simply a free kick. It was a rare occasion where Morata's pace stretched the Monaco back-line, but Juve were equally rewarded for persisting with their penetration from deep areas.

Both managers swiftly reacted to Vidal's opener, as Juve dropped a tad deeper into two banks of four, thus handing the onus to Monaco to break them down. However, apart from Kondogbia dispossessing Marchisio in midfield and forcing a save from Buffon, and Berbatov's skewed header from point blank range. Monaco's threat in the final third was scarce, as the home side remained compact, while the dynamic Vidal's work rate was equally influential in regaining possession.

Vidal vs. Monaco

Whereas Berbatov's introduction offered Monaco a reference point upfront, the French side was equally deprived of pace in the final third. Allegri's reluctance to push for a second goal saw Andrea Barzagli replace Pirlo as Juve moved to a 3-5-2, which in theory transitioned into a 5-3-2 to stifle Monaco's threat on the break.

The match was settled by a controversial penalty decision, yet Juve's penetration from deep, along with Monaco's pace in transition shaped its overall pattern. Although both sides profligate finishing presents a tense second leg encounter in France, Juve have displayed their maturity to soak up pressure and punish teams on the counter under Allegri, further elucidating why they're clear favourites next week.