By Toyin Akiode
Juventus and Real Madrid will battle it out for the biggest prize in European football tomorrow in Cardiff, Wales. Records and history will be at stake as these two European powerhouses seek to outdo each other in an encounter that promises to be as explosive as any football match can be.
Names ring out; Zinedine Zidane, Massimiliano Allegri, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gigi Buffon, Sergio Ramos, Giorgio Chiellini, Toni Kroos, Isco Alarcon, Luka Modric, Paul Dybala, Dani Alves and Gonzalo Higuain. These guys will in one way or the other determine the outcome of the match.
Were Real Madrid to play the usual way they had played throughout the season, one should expect an all attacking play that will put to test the storied best defense in Europe. There is however a small challenge for Los Blancos – the penchant to consistently concede goals; no matter the opposition.
A perfect game will therefore be required both in the front and at the back for Real Madrid whose goalkeeper will tally among those with the highest number of saves this season In Europe.
It is no gainsaying that Juventus will be the toughest opposition for Real Madrid and Zidane. If the reticent French wants to add to his growing silverware and reputation; he would have to work very hard to break down the Juventus miserly defense.
Juventus first finals was in 1984/1985 season and they came out tops against Liverpool by a lone goal. They had another successful outing against Ajax 11 years later to nick their second title.
Juventus have had very tough luck and turns in UEFA Champions League finals. In recent memories; they lost against Borussia Dortmund in Germany in the 1996/1997 final.
Tutored by the renowned Marcello Lippi, the Old Lady was heavily tipped for that final only to suffer a sucker punch from a youthful but lethal Dortmund side led by Karl–Heinz Riedel. After that encounter Juventus had managed to appear in three other finals but ended up with empty hands.
Unlike Juventus, Real Madrid are the grandmasters’ of the UEFA Champions League. Los Blancos have appeared in 14 finals, won 11 of those and looking good to make history with their 12th title.
If they succeed; Real Madrid will be the first team in modern Champions League history to defend the title. This could be another shot in the arm to push the undoubtedly talented Spanish team to the finish line ahead of Juventus.
Head to head
Juventus played Real in the final of the 1997/1998 and lost by a lone PredragMijatovic goal in the 66th minute. It was a game in which the Italians outplayed their Spanish opponent but it wasn’t to be a happy ending.
That win broke Real Madrid 32 years long European drought and they haven’t looked back since then!
Juventus is a roundly strong team. Difficult to outplay or beat in the defense, they play a 4-2-3-1 pattern that has defined their very successful season.
With Gonzalo Higuain being the top marksman, Paulo Dybala’s creativity and the foraging runs by Dani Alves will certainly put Real Madrid to task. If Juventus were to score first; we might be in for the most intriguing encounter in recent times.
Real Madrid on the other hand knows only one way – attack and attack; until the opposition caves in. With Carvajal back in the team, critical services need by Cristiano Ronaldo could from the right back but not with the ease of the LaLiga games.
This is the biggest club competition in the world and this is the place all ambitious players want to be at the end of each season. Finals are usually determined by the intensity of the team who wants it more. Arsenal proved that against Chelsea last week.
It is a very tough one to stick out the neck. However, a careful positional analysis indicates a slight edge for Juventus. Notwithstanding, Real Madrid have shown they don’t dance to anyone’s tune when it comes this competition!
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