SPOTLIGHT ON OLD LADY
Treble beckons for Juventus
TURIN Roma by nine points with four matches remaining.
Juventus are also in the Italian Cup final, where they will face Lazio, as they bid for a third straight league and cup double.
Nobody has been able to match Juventus in the Italian league, where they have the best defence — having only conceded 22 goals in 34 matches — and the second best attack behind Napoli.
Juventus are also almost unbeatable at home where they are currently on a Serie A record 33match winning run. They haven’t lost at the Juventus Stadium in the Champions League since a 20 defeat to Bayern Munich in the 2013 quarter-finals.
The Bianconeri finally appear to be transforming this domestic success to the international stage, where they are bidding to reach a second Champions League final in three years.
Last time they reached the final of Europe’s premier club competition, Juventus were swept aside 3-1 by Barcelona. This year they beat the Spanish club 3-0 over two legs in the quarter-finals.
Beating a side which contained Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar — and barely allowing them a chance of a goal — has given Juventus the confidence and belief that they could claim a first European trophy since 1996.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH z PAULO DYBALA — Dybala has had a fantastic two seasons at Juventus since joining from Palermo for €32 million (RM162 million) in June 2015.
But it is this season that the Argentine has really made an impact on the international stage, earning comparisons with his
AP more famous compatriot Lionel Messi and reportedly drawing interest from Barcelona and other top clubs.
Juventus fans heaved a sigh of relief when the 23-year-old Dybala signed a new contract at the beginning of the month, tying him to the Bianconeri until 2022.
That deal came just days after Dybala netted two goals in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal against Barcelona.
Dybala has scored 40 goals in all competition for Juventus, making him the club’s leading scorer over the past 18 months.
z GONZALO HIGUAIN — Higuain might be wearing a different shirt this season but he is still banging in the goals.
Higuain joined Juventus in the offseason for an Italian-record €90 million after scoring 36 goals for Napoli last campaign to break a 66-year-old Serie A record.
He is less of a focal point this season, in a team where the goals are more evenly shared out than during his time at Napoli. But Higuain has nevertheless netted 23 league goals — putting him fourth in a tight race for the top goalscorer award — and three in the Champions League.
However, the Argentina forward hasn’t scored in a Champions League knockout match since 2013, and he will be eager to end that negative streak against Monaco.
z LEONARDO BONUCCI — Bonucci is an integral part of Juventus’ famed ‘BBC defence’ along with Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini.
The trio helped put on a defensive masterclass to shut out Barcelona over the 180 minutes of their Champions League quarter-final.
Bonucci has been an ever-present for Juventus over the past two seasons, making 87 appearances, more than any other player — including captain Gianluigi Buffon.
The Italy international is regarded as one of the best ballplaying defenders in world football, and Bonucci showed off his superb skills with a stunning goal against Genoa recently, going on a mazy run from inside his own half, before firing off an unstoppable shot from the edge of the area. AP
Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe has scored 24 goals in 38 matches in all competitions this season.