Juventus have been stellar on defense this season, that's clear. As we covered on our Goalkeepers Preview, the Italian side have only conceded 28 goals in 42 matches played by starting goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon this season, much to the delight of their hardcore Italian supporters and pundits who like their teams built around a solid defensive line. Juventus can score and have a good attacking system, but the way they defend is clearly their main weapon.
On the other hand, that's Real Madrid's main —and only?— weakness. Los Blancos have conceded 49 goals in 40 matches played by Keylor Navas and they've only kept seven clean sheets with him on goal. Coach Zinedine Zidane has world class defenders like Sergio Ramos or Dani Carvajal at his disposal, but the defensive system seems to have some weaknesses. Can Real Madrid prove that offense wins championships?
Both teams could be expected to play under a four-man defensive line, although Juventus might also use a 5-2-3 with Dani Alves and Alex Sandro playing as full-backs and Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci in the center of the defense. That system would give Alves and Sandro more freedom to operate and create scoring opportunities for their teammates while they also help on the defensive end. Allegri used the five-man defense in both matches against Monaco and things worked out well for the Italian side, so he has an interesting decision to make in that regard.
On the other hand, Dani Carvajal has finally recovered from the hamstring injury he picked up against Atletico de Madrid and will be "200% ready to play" if his words are accurate enough. He's a major improvement over Danilo and his performances this season have been nothing short of spectacular. Sergio Ramos and Varane will be the ones playing in the center of the defensive line while Marcelo will bring his creativity on the left wing. The outcome of Marcelo's duel against Dani Alves could very well decide the Final.
It would be a surprise to see reserves playing in this game, so this should not be a factor. Madrid will most likely have Nacho and Pepe on the bench while Juventus might need to rely on Benatia, Asamoah or Lichsteiner if something happens during the course of the game. Again, this should not be an important aspect of the game.
The Star Factor
Juventus have the better system. Coach Allegri built an impressive defensive wall around Buffon, Chiellini and Bonucci with players like Alves and Sandro shining as well. Madrid tend to struggle defensively and can't keep a clean sheet.
Unluckily enough for Juventus, Sergio Ramos plays for Real Madrid. The Spanish defender has scored decisive goals in previous Champions League Finals and he doesn't collapse under pressure. He can make some mistakes here and there throughout the course of a whole season and yet he always delivers on the big stage. Can he add another brilliant performance in a Champions League Final to his legacy?
Managing Madrid's verdict
It's hard to overlook the numbers and Juventus' solid system. They simply have the better defensive line.
But remember, this is a Champions League Final and Sergio Ramos plays for Real Madrid.
How to watch Real Madrid vs Juventus, 2017 Champions League Final
Kick-off time: 20:45 CET, 02:45pm EST, Saturday June 3rd.
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales.