They certainly didn't make it look easy in this match, but Juventus weathered a heck of a storm from AS Monaco, holding on to a 0-0 draw and earning themselves a berth in the Champions League semifinals.
The first half was curiously one-sided, with Juventus sitting very deep in a defensive shell, inviting Monaco forward to attack at will. The hosts gladly accepted the invitation, playing a high press that kept Juventus off-balance and creating numerous scoring chances that they just couldn't quite finish off. Still, they successfully kept Juve pinned back, forcing them to play more and more defensively and taking the teeth out of their counter attack in the process.
Monaco struggled to get their shots on-target, but did have what looked like a pretty clear penalty shout turned away in the first half. Geoffrey Kondogbia, who had been giving Andrea Pirlo nightmares throughout the half, burst in to the box and was met at the edge of it by Giorgio Chiellini and Arturo Vidal, with the pair both hitting him from either side and knocking him off the ball. Referee William Collum wasn't interested though and just turned around to follow the ball once it was hoofed clear.
To give credit where it's due, Juventus did manage to shield away Monaco's attacking efforts, but they struggled badly when they were on the ball, having a difficult time passing through Monaco's relentless pressing. Even Pirlo and Buffon had moments of indecision and nerves, something you hardly ever see. They were able to counter more effectively with balls over the top a few times in the second half, but by and large Monaco continued their relentless attacking pressure.
Monaco had brought on Dimitar Berbatov to start the second half, putting the cultured striker up top to try and convert some of the attacking chances his side was creating. He also joined in on the pressing game, at one point single-handedly knocking two Juve defenders off-kilter and poking the ball clear, but Gianluigi Buffon was just able to beat the Bulgarian striker to the loose ball.
Monaco kept turning up the pressure more and more, but just couldn't find the crack in the wall Juventus threw up that they needed to score. You have to give them credit for giving Juventus all they could handle, but in the end they just lacked the final touch they needed to force the issue in this match. Eventually they simply ran out of gas, as evidenced by Juventus slowly starting to find more and more time on the ball, finally generating some late attacks. Once that set in, you knew Monaco were pretty much done.
It was an impressive performance from Monaco, but when the final whistle blew it was Juventus smiling and celebrating a 1-0 aggregate victory and advancing to the Champions League semifinals. Hopefully Monaco don't get too disheartened from the result because they should be proud of what they did in this match. If they can play like this some more, they'll be winning matches like this and getting to the semifinals themselves sooner than some people might think.
AS Monaco: Danijel Subasic; Fabinho, Andrea Raggi, Aymen Abdennour, Layvin Kurzawa; Joao Moutinho, Jeremy Toulalan (Dimitar Berbatov 46'), Geoffrey Kondogbia; Bernardo Silva, Anthony Martial (Valere Germain76'), Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco (Matheus Carvalho 87')
Juventus: Gianluigi Buffon; Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Arturo Vidal (Roberto Pereyra 77'), Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio, Patrice Evra (Simone Padoin 90'); Carlos Tevez, Alvaro Morata (Fernando Llorente 69')
1. Monaco are much better than they're given credit for - When this draw was made, the majority of observers chalked this up as an easy win for Juventus and wrote Monaco off. Then they played Juventus to a standstill in the first leg, only giving up a goal on a sketchy penalty, and put a lot of pressure on Juventus straight off in the second leg and never let up until their energy finally gave out late in the match. Even without being the financial juggernaut they'd hoped to become, this is a pretty damn good club with a lot of talent and a smart manager, and they proved a whole lot of people wrong with how impressive they were against a very good Juventus team.
2. Juventus got a little too conservative - Juve playing ina 3-5-2 and looking to play on the counter wasn't terribly surprising, holding a 1-0 lead and playing away. But they sat so deep and played so conservatively when they had the ball that they allowed Monaco free reign for long stretches of the match. There's a difference between playing defensive football and inviting your opponent forward to score, and too often Juventus trended toward the latter option, especially in the first half.
3. Andrea Barzagli makes Juventus better - The Italian defender missed much of this season with an injury, and it's little coincidence that Juventus' defense has been much better since Barzagli came back. He does a lot of the little things that Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini don't always seem to, cleaning up mistakes and keeping their defense tidier. He was the sold Juve defender who didn't look out of sorts against Monaco's high press, and that Juve didn't concede a goal is heavily down to his efforts.