Thursday, 1 June 2017

UEFA Champions League Final - Juventus V Real Madrid

The match we are all waiting for is finally here. On June 3rd, Real Madrid and Juventus will clash in the final match of the 62nd UEFA Champions League. The Millenium Stadium in Cardiff will be watched by football fans around the world, as the two best teams in Europe fight for glory. Real Madrid aim to be the first team in history to win the Champions League twice in a row, while Juventus hope to win this title for the third time in their history (the last time in 1996) and take revenge for the 1998 finals.

Real Madrid have found a new identity with Zidane. With him, this team crushes opposition by overwhelming them at crucial moments. They may not have the best playmaking style, but they don’t need it: it’s about understanding the flow of the match. Real Madrid can make a goal in the blink of an eye and any rival will have to stay focused for the full 90 minutes. Every player has an important role. Cristiano Ronaldo is now a more box-orientated player, always well positioned and with lethal finishing touches. Benzema back him up with more movement towards the flanks to assist him, without losing his main qualities as a striker. Isco plays as an old-fashioned playmaker and adds his quality to the equation. Carabajal and especially Marcelo, who is the best left-back at the moment, regularly help in an offensive capacity too.  On top of this, Kroos and Modric have stunning accuracy in the midfield. Casemiro as their partner, fulfills the defensive duties. Ramos and Varane as center-backs are an established pairing, and Keylor Navas has proved to be worthy when needed. With such a display, it isn’t hard to see how Real Madrid became the team that it is.

Juventus is a team that reminds us of the old italian style of play. Under Allegri’s management, they have the most solid defense in the world, with possibly the two best center backs. Bonucci and Barzagli know everything about the defensive duties, and work splendidly together. If you manage to pass them, Buffon is still around to deny almost any scoring chance. He may well be in the final years of his career, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t still one of the best goalkeeper in Europe. Dani Alves really adds something and one wonders how Barcelona let him go. Pjanic replaces Pogba and Pirlo with some quality displays. He’s not only a tactical player, always well positioned, but also displays outstanding technique in his touches. In offense, Allegri adds some South American flavor to the mix, with Paulo Dybala as the key player. The young argentinean is a vital part of the system not only due to his dribbling and scoring abilities, but also because he commands almost every transition from defense to attack. Gonzalo Higuaín is another important player, always ready to score when he has a chance, but also helping in the build-up. Finally, a word must be said about Mandzukic. The Croatian used to be a typical striker, but now plays as a winger, covering the entire left flank and helping in defensive duties. And when the matches are tight, Allegri can count on Cuadrado’s dribbling to solve the puzzle if needs be.

It’s hard to predict an outcome for this encounter. While Real Madrid is the clear favorite for all the bookies, with average odds of 7/8, one should take into account that the best offense in the world will clash with the best defense. Juventus is a solid team and it's not an easy task to score against them. This match may well be a close one with one team grinding out a win, so we should expect a fairly low score. At 8/13,  2 goals or less seems like a probable outcome. If there are goals, it’s hard to see Cristiano Ronaldo being without one! He's the main striker for Real Madrid and frequently scores in decisive matches. A goal from him is 11/10 with bookmakers, which seems generous. Enjoy the match!

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