Monaco seek to make history in comeback win

MILAN • Monaco, beaten 2-0 at home in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final by Juventus, will have to make history in today's return leg if they are to end Ligue 1's long absence from the final.

Only two teams have ever won a knockout tie in the competition after losing at home in the first leg and in both cases - Ajax Amsterdam against Panathinaikos in 1996 and Inter Milan against Bayern Munich in 2011 - they had only one goal to make up.

Monaco, who themselves were the last French side to reach the final when they lost to Jose Mourinho's Porto in 2004, would also have to end Juve's four-year unbeaten home record in Europe and a run of six successive clean sheets in the competition.

Monaco have never won a game in Italy in seven attempts while Juve's record against French teams will not give them much encouragement either - the Italian side have won all previous 11 knockout ties against Ligue 1 opponents, including Monaco themselves on two occasions.

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Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim, whose side won 3-0 at Nancy on Saturday to close in on the Ligue 1 title, said that an early goal could change the complexion of the tie.

"We have to stay confident, try to play our game and put on a good performance and, if we score at the start of the game, maybe that could change things," he said.


Monaco forward Kylian Mbappe (left) controlling the ball against Juventus defender Alex Sandro during the first leg which Juve won 2-0. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

If there is one thing which gives Jardim hope, it is Monaco's prolific scoring record this season. They have blasted 139 goals in 55 matches in all competitions, not including the French League Cup, and have managed three or more goals in a match on 25 occasions.

Kylian Mbappe, 18 and one of the hottest properties in European football, has scored 18 goals in his last 20 competitive games, while Monaco also have other dangerous players including resurgent Colombian forward Radamel Falcao.

Juventus forward Paulo Dybala limped off during Saturday's 1-1 draw at home with Torino, but coach Massimiliano Allegri said it was just a case of cramp.

"It was normal in the circumstances and towards the end of the season," said Allegri, who warned his team not to think about any another result than a win. "Monaco are a side with great talent and we have absolutely not yet sealed our qualification. We need to win the second leg."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2017, with the headline 'Monaco seek to make history in comeback win'. Print Edition | Subscribe