Juventus is even money to win their first Champions League trophy since 1996 after defeating free-scoring Monaco 4-1 on aggregate after another scintillating display from Dani Alves.
Serie A might be a shoddy claptrap of a league singed by match fixing allegations of the past and a host of teams that wouldn’t challenge Gillingham to a decent game. But that hasn’t stopped Juventus from competing at the very highest level in world football.
The Old Lady reached their second Champions League final in the past three years after putting free-scoring Monaco to bed in Turin last night.
The French league leaders, who have scored more goals (150) than any other team in Europe except Real Madrid (158) and Barcelona (160), were blitzed in a first half dominated by the team who has won Serie A in each of the past five seasons.
Armed with a two-goal advantage from the first leg, and the knowledge that they hadn’t conceded two goals in the entirety of this season’s competition, and had failed to concede in the knockout stages, Juventus swaggered into the half time interval 4-0 up on aggregate.
After Gonzalo Higuain and Mario Mandzukic had spurned two glorious chances to put Juventus clear of their French rivals, it was the big Croatian centre-forward who broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute. It was his first Champions League goal in six games.
Dani Alves, the man who set up both goals in the first leg, floated the ball into the box; Mandzukic headed feebly into the body of his fellow countryman Danijel Subasic but managed to stab in the rebound.
Then with first half time running out, Dani Alves walked calmly towards the penalty area as a corner swung in from the left. The French defence cleared the ball into the path of the former Barcelona star, and Alves volleyed the winner with the outside of his right foot like only Brazilians can do. It was Alves’s seventh involvement in a Champions League goal this season, more than any other defender, although I am not sure you can call him a defender.
Kylian Mbappe once again showed his worth when he scored a consolation goal in the 69th minute – the first Juventus had conceded in 689 minutes of Champions League football – but in the end, it was an easy passage to Cardiff as Juventus look to win their first top tier European trophy since 1996.
The victory means Juventus level with AC Milan on six finals each as the teams who have participated in the most. It seems they will almost certainly face Real Madrid who takes on Atletico Madrid tonight buoyed by a three-goal first leg cushion.
Juventus 2 v 1 Monaco (4-1 Agg)
Champions League Odds (Courtesy of Bodog)
Real Madrid – 125
Atletico Madrid +5000