Madrid and Juventus on verge of Champions League final

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 its 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.

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JUVENTUS vs. MONACO

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, which still left the club in position to secure the title when it visits second-place Roma five days after the game against Monaco.

"Passing the round is not a given," he said. "Roma comes after."

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 equalizer from substitute Gonzalo Higuain.

Juventus will again look to Higuain to lead its attack on Tuesday against Monaco, especially after the Argentina forward scored both goals in the first leg. Higuain hadn't previously scored in a Champions League knockout match since 2013.

Monaco needs one more goal to reach 150 for the season but at least two to have a chance of reaching the final.

"We have to be confident against Juventus, even though it's going to be very difficult," Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim said. "We must keep playing good football the way we know. If we score early on, maybe that can change things."

Jardim will be hoping 18-year-old striker Kylian Mbappe and top scorer Radamel Falcao do better than in the first leg, when both missed good chances to score against Gianluigi Buffon.

In order to keep Mbappe as fresh as possible, Jardim named him as a substitute for the match at Nancy on Saturday, when Monaco won 3-0 for a club-record ninth straight league win. Monaco moved closer to the French title and reached 149 goals in all competitions this season: The ideal confidence-booster before facing Juventus.

Mbappe only played 10 minutes late on against Nancy, but still had enough time to set up the third goal, while Falcao saved some valuable energy for Tuesday by coming off about 15 minutes from the end.

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ATLETICO MADRID vs. REAL MADRID

Atletico's much-hyped defense failed in the first leg, and now it's up to the offense 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 on Wednesday if Atletico is 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.

Griezmann, the team's top player, hasn't scored in four matches.

No team has ever reversed a two-goal loss in the Champions League semifinals.

"This is probably impossible for many, but not for us," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said.

The second leg will mark the final European game at the Vicente Calderon Stadium before Atletico moves into a new venue next season. It has won 29 of its last 35 European games at the stadium, with only two losses. It hasn't lost in 10 straight home games in European competitions.

Madrid is trying to become the first team to have a chance to defend its title since Manchester United made it to consecutive finals in 2008-09. No team has won back-to-back titles since the competition's new format was created in 1992.

Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane will be able to count on a fresh Cristiano Ronaldo, who was rested in the team's Spanish league win over Granada on Saturday. Ronaldo scored a hat trick in the first leg against Atletico, and had five goals in the two games against Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals.

The Portugal forward had scored 21 goals in 28 appearances against Atletico.

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AP Sports Writers Daniella Matar in Milan and Jerome Pugmire in Paris contributed to this report.

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More AP Champions League coverage: http://apne.ws/2lgcPZm

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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