Monaco's pride in defeat but Juventus march on in the Champions League
As Juventus booked their place in the Champions League final at the expense of Monaco, Julien Laurens and James Horncastle got talking ...
James gets the postmatch debate going ...
Jules, did you see the Juventus choreography before the game? "TIME FOR CARDIFF." Well, it is now!
Beppe Marotta, Juventus' general manager, wasn't too pleased about it, though. UEFA apparently made them adapt it to include "Cardiff" and superstitious folk like Marotta feared it might bring bad luck.
"We'll pretend not to see it, and try not remember the name," he said.
In the end, it was prophetic and the fans here are celebrating in the manner Giorgio Chiellini did after he made that spectacular clearance from Benjamin Mendy's cross in the first half.
They feel it's their year, Jules, and why wouldn't they? On the two occasions Juventus did go on and claim this trophy, guess who they beat in the semifinals? Bordeaux in 1985 and Nantes in 1996. Now Monaco. All French teams. It's an omen, Jules. An omen!
Stealing the headlines once again was Dani Alves. Chiellini recently spoke about how crazy they all thought Alves was when he first joined but, as the former Barcelona man likes to define his outlook on life, it's the "good crazy."
What did you make of Leonardo Jardim's tactics?
James, first let me congratulate you and Juventus on behalf of all French people, Monaco fans and players.
Juve were outstanding over the two legs and totally deserve to be in the final. They are flawless -- the best team in the world right now. There is no shame for Monaco to have been knocked out by such a team. The Monegasques can hold their heads high and be proud of themselves. They made their club proud. They made French football proud too. It was always going to be difficult to overcome the 2-0 deficit after the first leg in France.
Monaco needed a miracle but at least they went for it. I thought Jardim's tactics were spot on. Good on him for trying a back three and mirroring Juventus' formation. Good on him for risking Mendy even if he was not 100 percent. Good on him to bring in Joao Moutinho instead of Fabinho. Good on him for trying something special in order to surprise Massimiliano Allegri and his team.
Jardim had to try something new. It worked in a way because Monaco started the game the better and the Italians needed 10 or 15 minutes to adjust. Once they did, Monaco were outplayed in a wonderful stadium in front of wonderful fans. I guess the positive from Monaco's point of view was Kylian Mbappe once again. He became the youngest player (18 years, five months) to score in a Champions League semifinal, had another big chance saved by Gianluigi Buffon and he never gave up.
As you say, Jules, Mbappe just keeps surprising.
Another round. Another difficulty rating. Another goal -- the first Juventus have conceded in 690 minutes in the Champions League. He succeeded where Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar and teammate Radamel Falcao all failed this season. He wasn't even born when Buffon was participating in his first World Cup. But Juventus' experience told over the two legs. Monaco had 118 Champions League appearances between them going into this tie, compared with Juventus' 420.
"Today Juve's youngest player, Dybala, was 23," Jardim observed. "We have lots of players who are 20, 21, 22. In two or three years, they'll improve by 20-25 percent."
Can they keep this team together, Jules? Who stays and who goes?
That's the big question, my friend.
I would like to say the future is bright for Monaco but it's not really either. If they only lose two or three players in the transfer market, it would be a very good summer. Four, it's an average summer. Five or six, it's a really bad summer. I really believe Mbappe will stay another season. It is in his interest and Monaco's too, especially in a World Cup season.
But Bernardo Silva (Manchester United, Bayern Munich), Tiemoue Bakayoko (Chelsea, Manchester United), Fabinho (Manchester City, Inter Milan), Mendy (Manchester City, Manchester United, Inter Milan) and Djibril Sidibe (Chelsea, Manchester City) could all leave.
What a shame it would be. Give them another two years together and they could have been kings of Europe too.
Now that you have the French factor on Juventus' side -- like you said, every time they beat a French club in the semifinals, they win the competition -- you must feel pretty confident about the final, whoever you face?
The belief in this Juventus team is extraordinary, Jules.
The determination with which they speak about winning the Champions League is convincing. They are aware of their own strengths and nothing scares them. Driving them on is the desire not only to crown a six-year cycle of success with the greatest achievement of them all, but also their wish to see Buffon lift this trophy.
"Just getting to the final means nothing," he said on Tuesday night. It will only mean something if Juventus win it and end a 21-year wait to be champions of Europe again.
"We have to lift the trophy," Alves said. "There's nothing else to say."
I hope you'll be rooting for them.
Of course I will be!
Waiting 21 years without the biggest trophy of all is too long and losing four finals in a row (1997, 1998, 2003 and 2015) is too painful. Their moment has come -- they won't disappoint this time.