Madrid, Juventus close to Champions League final

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May 09, 2017
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MADRID (AP):

It could be a momentous week for Juventus. And a big one for Real Madrid, too.

Two of Europe's grandest teams will be defending big leads this week in the second leg of the Champions League semifinals.

Juventus beat Monaco 2-0 last week in their quest to reach the final for the second time in three seasons. Madrid, looking to become the first team to win back-to-back Champions League titles, defeated Atletico Madrid 3-0.

Madrid won the title in 2014 and 2016, both times against Atletico, while Juventus lost to Barcelona in 2015. The Italian club is seeking its first Champions League title in more than two decades.

The Italian champions have a chance to return to the Champions League final and clinch an unprecedented sixth Serie A title this week.

"First we have to recover some energy and then we will focus on Monaco," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said after his team's 1-1 draw against Torino.

Allegri rested several key players in the derby match and Juventus struggled at times despite playing with a numerical advantage for more than half an hour. The Bianconeri, who missed the chance to extend their league record to 34 straight home wins, needed a stoppage-time equaliser from substitute Gonzalo Higuain.

Juventus will again look to Higuain to lead their attack today against Monaco, especially after the Argentina forward scored both goals in the first leg.

Atletico's much-hyped defence failed in the first leg, and now it's up to the offence to try to get the team back on its feet.

Forwards Antoine Griezmann and Kevin Gameiro will need to regain their best form and come up with outstanding performances tomorrow if Atletico are to overturn the three-goal deficit from the first leg. The French duo has struggled recently, scoring only three goals between them in their last six games.

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