Juventus haven’t won the Champions League since 1996; Real Madrid have won it twice in the last three years. So can Massimo Allegri’s masterful Serie A maestros get the better of the Spanish giants on Saturday in Cardiff?
This final at the National Stadium of Wales is a true meeting of champions; for the first time in five years, Real Madrid finished the season as winners of La Liga. Real are very slight favourites to win this trophy, perhaps because of their undeniable pedigree (11 Champions League / European Cups in all!) – but these sides look supremely well-matched.
The conventional spiel would suggest this is a classic meeting of attack against defence, the all-conquering, unquenchable desire of Cristiano Ronaldo against the staunchly impenetrable resilience of Juve’s back four – and the side’s justly famed goalkeeper, Gigi Buffon.
Juve can certainly defend; so far in this competition, they’ve conceded just three goals, an achievement of some note. Yet the side have hardly relied on a Mourinho-esque pragmatism at the expense of their attack.
This is the team that beat Barcelona 3-0 in the semi-finals; that saw off Seville 3-1 away from home in the group stages, having earlier beat Dynamo Zagreb 4-0 on the road. Even if Barcelona haven’t quite been the force of old this season, Juventus have been outstanding.
So can they do a job here against been-there, done-that, got-the-t-shirt Zinedine Zidane? Well, Real might always score – but they usually concede too. They let in four in two matches against Borussia Dortmund, and were held to a 3-3 draw away to Legia Warsaw. Ronaldo may have been brilliant in recent games, but Gareth Bale is likely to be absent with an ankle injury too.
Let’s hope this one lives up to the billing; we reckon Juventus can sneak it, and we’re happy to back them at 19/10. Gonzalo Higuain is 9/5 to score at any time for Juve, while Ronaldo is a 6/4 shot in the same market; both men could easily find the back of the net here, but I just think Juventus will win out in the end.
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