Juventus vs Real Madrid: Match Preview
Juventus vs Real Madrid in many ways is the perfect final. The rich history of both clubs, the number of players to have switched Madrid for Turin and vice versa, their unforgettable encounters of the past, their burning desire to rewrite history yet again.
The Bianconeri have already created legend this season by claiming a sixth straight Scudetto and third consecutive Coppa Italia – both unprecedented achievements in Italian football.
With victory tonight in Cardiff they would complete a very first treble in the club’s history, confirming their place as Juventus’ most successful ever side.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, are pursuing what no club in the world has achieved before: that of claiming back to back Champions Leagues.
Los Blancos (‘The Whites’) hold the record for the highest number of Champions League triumphs: they have got their hands on Europe’s most coveted prize 11 times, winning two of the last three editions.
In short, both teams are on the verge of something very special indeed, but only one will reach their destiny tonight at the National Stadium of Wales.
With eight wins each and two draws from their 18 meetings, something will need to give this Saturday.
While Real had the better of things generally in the earliest encounters between the sides, culminating in their 1998 Champions League final victory when, the Bianconeri boast a fine recent record against the Spaniards.
Since that 1-0 loss in in Amsterdam, Juve have eliminated Los Blancos in all three occasions that they’ve met in the knockout stages: 2003 semi-finals, 2005 round of 16 and 2015 semi-finals.
Meanwhile in 2008, Alessandro Del Piero scored three goals across two group games against Real, including a stunning brace at the Bernabeu that brought the entire crowd to their feet as the iconic striker received an unforgettable standing ovation.
It’s been another impressive campaign on the continent for Real, who won eight of their 12 matches, drawing three and losing just once (the semi-final second leg against Atletico Madrid).
Thirty-two goals make Zinedine Zidane’s men the highest scorers in the competition (11 more than the Bianconeri) and have netted in each game since Matchday One.
It’s Massimiliano Allegri’s team however, that boast by far the better defensive record: Los Blancos have conceded 17 goals in contrast to Juve’s three.
The Old Lady went 690 minutes without letting in a single strike from the very start of their penultimate group game against Sevilla right through to the second half of their semi-final return leg against Monaco.
Juventus are the only team to have remained unbeaten throughout the 2016/17 Champions League campaign and are now just one match away from getting their hands on what would be a fully deserved third European Cup crown.
THE MAIN MEN
Any team that reaches the Champions League final usually is brimming with quality from top to toe; Juventus and Real Madrid are certainly no different.
There are, however, some names that stand out in particular. It’s time to take a look at the men who could well have their say on the night:
For Juventus, there’s simply no other starting point than legendary goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon. The 39-year-old becomes the third oldest player to feature in a Champions League final. Lifting his first UCL trophy tonight would be a fully merited feat in his stellar career.
Dani Alves meanwhile is chasing his fourth Champions League title. The former Barcelona man’s unrivalled experience in the competition has been invaluable for the Bianconeri, especially in the latter stages of the season and not least with his wonder goal and three assists in the semi-final double header against Monaco.
Up front Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain have delivered the goods when needed most. The former put in a potentially career-defining performance in April by striking twice in the 3-0 victory over Barcelona – in many people’s minds, the turning point in Juve’s European campaign and the moment when they really hit the accelerator pedal along the road to Cardiff.
Fellow Argentina forward Higuain is enjoying the best Champions League campaign of his career. Five goals, including a brace against Monaco, have helped steer Juve to their season’s objectives overseas as well as in Italy.
Four Ballon d’Or awards, 103 career goals in the Champions League and 10 in this season’s competition make Cristiano Ronaldo unmistakeably Real Madrid’s main man. Ronaldo, the first ever player to reach a century of UCL strikes, will be playing in his fifth final tonight.
Karim Benzema is Real’s second-highest scorer in this Champions League. The French forward has five goals in 12 appearances.
It’s Sergio Ramos however that has built a reputation for finding the net when it matters most. The Spain defender famously denied Atletico Madrid at the death of the 2014 final in Lisbon and his wealth of experience in the competition will be of enormous benefit to Los Blancos yet again.
May the best team win.
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