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Allegri: The numbers speak for Monaco

Manager’s comments ahead of Champions League semi-final

Juventus Press Conference Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Juventus take on Monaco in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal tomorrow, and manager Massimiliano Allegri spoke to the media ahead of the game.

Sami Khedira is suspended and Claudio Marchisio is expected to start in his place.

“The system doesn’t change. Khedira is a more physical player and Marchisio has more movement. Claudio is in good shape, has improved a lot over the last month and is an important player we have rediscovered.”

On their opponents Monaco who have proven to be an offensive juggernaut.

“Monaco play with great pace on vertical lines. They are very different to two seasons ago.

“Looking at the statistics, it’s easy to imagine a game in a certain way, but football is unpredictable. Monaco tend to score a lot in the final stages, so we need to have great respect for this team and get it into our heads that two legs have to be played to the best of our abilities, because this is very complicated.”

Two years ago Juve beat Monaco, what has changed in that time?

“The statistics show Monaco have changed both in attack and defence. They tend to do much better in front of goal, whereas two years ago the characteristics of their players suggested much more solidity.

“Leonardo Jardim has done an extraordinary job. They are in the Champions League semi-final, ahead of PSG in Ligue 1, who were one of the big favourites to win the Champions League, so you can’t argue with that.”

How about Gonzalo Higuain, who has struggled to score in the Champions League.

“Higuain was signed to improve the attacking potential of the squad. He is having a great campaign and scored many goals, but he’s not just valuable for his goals. He had a great game against Barcelona.

“If he scores tomorrow, you’ll probably start calling him ‘the Champions League man’, but the fact remains he’s having a wonderful season.”

Speaking of scorers, Radamel Falcao is the main point of attack for Monaco, not just wonderkid Kylian Mbappe.

“Before the injury, Falcao was one of the best centre-forwards in the world. Now he is returning to an extraordinary and very dangerous striker.

“The numbers speak for Monaco. The forwards work well together, Falcao has experience and is a fox in the box, Mbappe has great pace and technique, loves running into space. The whole team has improved over two years.

“They also have very good midfielders and in defence. A team finds success if it is organised, but also has very good players.”

On what he would advise his team as they went out for the game tomorrow.

“In these games, the team knows what it should do and should not do. Tomorrow we must not play like we did in the first half against Atalanta, as that approach would cause huge problems against a side like Monaco with their characteristics.”

Does Allegri feel more comfortable about the Scudetto after Roma’s loss in the Derby?

“Naturally having a nine-point advantage with four games to go is good, but it changes nothing in our mentality or the way we are preparing this match. We have the same number of days to prepare for the Turin Derby, a match we absolutely want to win.”

As always, Allegri was asked about his future with Juve.

“Will I be the Juventus Coach next season? I will meet with the club later, but we don’t have the time right now, because we have other things to think about.”