It all boils down to Saturday 6th June, at 7:45pm BST. The Champions League elect have been whittled down gradually, culminating in what should be an almighty showdown in Berlin’s Olympiastdion. Italy versus Spain. The Old Lady versus Barça. Serie A champions versus La Liga champions. Two-time winners versus the four-time champions. Two possible farewell appearances from Andrea Pirlo and Xavi Hernandez. Two treble-chasing teams; it’s Juventus versus Barcelona in the Champions League Final.
Both sides have had so-so journey’s to the final of this years Champions League final. Juventus defeating; Dortmund, Monaco and finally Real Madrid with the nightmare return of their former youth player, Alvaro Morata. Barcelona defeating; Manchester City, PSG and finally the dismantlement of former manager Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich.
Juventus haven’t won the Champions League since the 1995/96 season, so will understandably come into this as the underdogs, despite them arguably having the tougher run-in to have made it to final itself. Whilst both sides are scattered with individual brilliance, and collective genius play, it is Juventus who behold most in terms of sheer work-load. If, and it’s a big if, they can outwork Barcelona’s midfield trio, then, they may just stand a chance of what would be an upset. One huge factor which has been revealed recently is that the enigmatic lynchpin to Juve’s three man defence, Giorgio Chiellini, will be missing due to a calf injury. This, will be a huge blow to Juve’s hopes, as much as their own attacking prowess with Tevez and Morata is great, without a solid defence against Barça’s front-trio, they won’t stand a chance.
Barcelona meanwhile, should be at full strength for this game. Luis Suarez, much to Juventus’ delight, returned from an injury to play at the weekend. He will slot back into the Barça’s potent front-three which have now exceeded over 120 goals between them in all competitions, which, is so far beyond ridiculous in itself. More ridiculous, is that earlier in the season people were picking Suarez out for not doing enough, a fine example of how far we’ve come since then was the Semi-Final second leg against Bayern. Suarez was withdrawn at half-time, Barça then looked toothless upfront for the most part without him causing havoc in the middle, creating the spaces for his wing-men Neymar and, of course, that man, Lionel Messi.
Stats; Juventus have lost their last three Champions League Finals, Barcelona have won their last three. Out of the seven Italy V Spain finals in European contests, Italian sides have only triumphed twice. Messi could become the competitions top-goal-scorer if he does indeed notch a goal. Patrice Evra could become the second player to have played in Champions League finals for three different sides.
Whilst everything does point to a Barcelona triumph, do not forget the meteoric turnaround that Juventus have undergone in recent years. This, would be the cherry on the cake for them, and, they will want to achieve it that little bit more because of that. It should be a classic!
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