Monaco v Juventus: Champions League semi-final, first leg – live!

Hello. What a match we have in store today! If you’re not excited about this one, then you haven’t been paying attention. In the red corner we have Monaco, who for the sake of argument we’re going to bill as the most exciting young attacking team that Europe has seen since Ajax’s Class of ‘95; and in the black-and-white corner we have Juventus, who have some nifty attackers of their own but also the canniest and most tenacious defence in the whole world, backed by a goalkeeper who’s been thwarting ace strikers since the dawn of time. Truly, this is a tie that needs no hype. But what the hell, let’s give it socks.

Let’s give it stats, too. Monaco are goal-crazy: in France, they are scoring at a rate unmatched by any club since the Racing Paris side of 1960 and they have been similarly devastating on the continent, smashing four goals past the Premier League’s stingiest defence, Tottenham Hotspur, before outscoring some of Europe’s most devout attackers by hitting eight past Manchester City and six past Borussia Dortmund. That’s good going for a team that were on the brink of being eliminated by Fenerbahce in the preliminary round after losing 2-1 in Turkey. But they overturned that in the second leg thanks to a 3-1 win in which Radomel Falcao signalled his renaissance. Kylian Mbappé, meanwhile, had not even been born at that stage. But he made his first-team debut a week later - he really is a prodigy - and since then he has celebrated his 18th birthday and formed a beautiful and imaginatively destructive partnership with Falcao. In an era in which anyone who has performed more than 10 keepie-uppies has a popular YouTube reel entitled The New Messi, no one saw Mbappé coming. In fact, it’s a fine trick that Monaco have pulled, taking Europe almost entirely by surprise. Not only had no one heard of Mbappé and always believed that Leonardo Jardim was an essentially defensive coach, which he was, but few people outside France were familiar with swashbucklers such as Benjamin Mendy, Djibril Sidibé, Thomas Lemar and Tiemoué Bakayoko. The likes of Fabinho and Bernardo Silva were on some radars but not many. Now all are mainstream sensations. There’s talk of this team being picked apart by even richer predators once the summer comes, so this might be their one shot at glory. The Ligue 1 title is almost in the bag, will they become the first French club do the domestic-and-European double?

Related: Manchester United have £72m bid for Monaco’s Kylian Mbappé rejected

Paul will be here shortly. Here’s Martin Laurence with his look ahead to the match:

A game billed as the best attack in Europe against the best defence in Europe. The lower quality of Ligue 1 defences has helped Monaco score a remarkable 95 goals in 34 league games, but they put six past Manchester City in the last-16 stage and another six past Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals, so should not be underestimated.

No one is questioning Juventus’ credentials after they beat Barcelona with room to spare in the quarter-finals. They kept two clean sheets against Barcelona and have only conceded two goals in the competition all season. But, if anyone can ruin that record, then surely it’s neutrals’ favourites Monaco.

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