After playing 12 games, in which they scored 21 goals and conceded 3, winning 9 and only 3 draws, Massimo Allegri’s Juventus befittingly take their place in the finals of the most glamorous club competition, the UEFA Champions league, the old ladies are up against the defending champions, the newly crowned La Liga Champions and the most successful team in the history of the competition with 11 Champions league titles, Real Madrid who are aiming to become the first team in the modern era to defend their title. The Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales is the venue for this epic showdown and due to security concerns; the stadium which is one of the few with a roof will have its roof closed for the game, which is a first in Champions league history.
Unlike Juventus, Real Madrid had a slow start to this years’ competition with three wins and three draws in the group stages but burst to life in the knockout stages scoring 16 goals in 6 games and star forward Cristiano Ronaldo finding form at the most crucial times with hat-tricks against Bayern Munich and City Rivals Athletico Madrid.
Key Battle Areas:
Juventus are a team strongly noted for their defensive discipline, whilst Madrid have gathered averaged more than two goals in every game played this season, with the likes of the BBC trio in Benzema, Bale and Cristiano, they pack plenty attacking power and whilst they mostly tend to concede, they more often than not always outscore their opponent , but the deciding area in this game will most likely be the midfield battle, where the trio of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro will be up against an ever impressive Pjanic, Sami Khedira or Claude Marchisio with the likes of Mario Mandzukic adding an extra body when required. Luka Modric who is one of the finest players in his position today has struck a solid partnership with Toni Kroos whose calmness on the pitch and near perfect set-piece delivery especially with the likes of Sergio Ramos roaming will always be a factor, Casemiro has done the destroyers job very well this season and has totally repaid the trust placed in him by manager Zinedine Zidane. For Juventus, it’s a work-horse system, a midfield system that can crowd you when it needs to with full backs Dani Alves and Sandro forming a straight 5 man midfield or could also transit from defense to attack at a scary pace when it needs to with Pjanic controlling affairs with precise distribution and link-up play. Whoever wins the midfield battle will control the game and this will go a long way in determining the eventual outcome of the match.
The unstoppable attack VS the Immovable defense, BBC VS BBC, Ronaldo is scoring for fun yet again, Benzema is adding the numbers when needed, Bale is likely to be passed fit for this one and with Sergio Ramos history in recent finals, he will fancy yet another goal in Wales but they will be up against the meanest defense in Europe in Bonucci, Barzagli and Chiellini, the trio backed by the ever impressive Gigi Buffon went for 689 minutes without conceding a goal till Mbappe’s strike in the semis halted the record and they will have to deliver another defensive masterpiece if they really want to win the finals this time. Also noteworthy is the role that the likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Argentine whizkid Dybala will play in this as whilst they are more famed for their defensive solidity, they are also a dangerous team going forward.
The last time both teams met in the finals was in 1998 where Real Madrid emerged as winners but Juventus will be keen to avoid a repeat of the 2015 finals where they lost to another Spanish side Barcelona by 3 goals to one. A lot is riding on this game, with Zinedine Zidane seeking to become the first man in history to lead a team to back to back final triumph, and Gigi Buffon hoping to finally lay his hand on the trophy with the big ears after several heartbreaks. The bookmakers are calling this too close to decide, it is likely to be a game where the slightest of errors will decide the victor but it promises to be an explosive and entertaining curtain raiser to what has yet again been a great year for football.
My Prediction; Madrid 2 Juventus 1