A matchup of two likely domestic champions who arrive in the same place via different routes. Juve on the strength of a center back and keeper combination with an average age of nearly 34, and Monaco through Europe’s highest-scoring attack, led by 21 year old Thomas Lemar, 22 year old Bernardo Silva, and of course 18 year old Kylian Mbappe (with the 31 year old Falcao in there to finish it off). Juve have the most balanced side remaining in the tournament, with a fiercely organized back line and the creativity of Paulo Dybala heading the opposite direction. They’ve allowed only two goals in 10 Champions League matches this season, including of course, their shutout of Barca over two legs. Gianluigi Buffon promised he’d retire if he managed that feat, but luckily, once the impossible happened, he backed out. He may retire though, should Juventus win the Champions League, the only achievement missing in his career. For Monaco, Kylian Mbappe again made headlines this weekend as he scored his 22nd goal in his last 20 starts. Their swashbuckling, risky attack will rely heavily on Fabinho and Bakayoko to prevent the wild back-and-forth they had with Man City.
Runners-up in the Champions League in 1994, the principality’s club spent last season in the Europa league while finishing third in Ligue 1. Monaco struggled to find a reliable threat up top last season with Bernardo Silva and Thomas Lemar joint top scorers in the league with five goals apiece. To that end, Falcao is back from his disappointing loans in the Premier League with hopes to revive his career. Otherwise, Les Rouges et Blancs will look to the Portuguese duo of João Moutinho and the aforementioned Silva to control matches and create chances. They’ll face a difficult, but not impossible group which will include a trip to Moscow and matchups against Spurs and Bayer Leverkusen.
Over the summer, Italian champions Juve robbed their biggest Serie A rivals of their best talent - taking the league’s top goalscorer, Gonzalo Higuain, away from second-place finishers Napoli and the most productive midfielder, Miralem Pjanic, from Roma, who finished third. With their domestic season looking comfortable, you’d expect Juventus to put their focus on winning the Champions League for the first time since 1996, with Chelsea manager Antonio Conte starting in midfield. While they’ll certainly miss the loss of Paul Pogba, they’ve reinforced enough over the summer that they are considered among the favorites to reach the final.
The versatile midfielder has made nearly 100 appearances for both the Portuguese national team and Monaco.
Scored 11 goals in 19 appearances in his last season at Monaco, before being injured in halfway through the season.
Scored a Serie A-record 36 league goals for Napoli last season.
The heart and soul of Juve for over 15 years and 460+ appearances, even as they were relegated to Serie B following the Calciopoli betting scandal.