Massimiliano Allegri and Zinedine Zidane know that this 2017 UEFA Champions League Final could very well be decided by the midfielders and that's why there are so many questions about who will play for each team.
Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro will definitely start the game for Madrid but they could be joined by Isco. On the other hand, Pjanic will direct traffic for Juventus with Khedira protecting him. Allegri will choose between Khedira and Mandzukic for one spot unless he decides to play with a four-man defensive line which would allow him to deploy both players.
If Zidane decides to start Gareth Bale upfront, Casemiro, Kroos and Modric could be a bit undermatched against Juventus' physicality. It's clear that Casemiro would need to work very hard and even Bale's presence could be needed to help Carvajal on the right wing when Real Madrid don't have the ball. However, it seems that Isco will beat Bale in the battle for a starting spot and that would transform Real to the 4-4-2 formation they've been using —with great results— lately. Isco has been working very hard defensively and his creativity, paired with his ability to help Kroos and Modric at distributing the ball, could be very useful against Juventus' intensity. Furthermore, Bale should be a very dangerous weapon coming off the bench assuming that Juventus' pressing will not be as coordinated late in the game. It makes sense for Zidane to pick Isco as the starter and sit Bale on the bench, although it won't be easy to do so considering that the Final is played in Bale's hometown.
Allegri also has a interesting decision to make. If he goes for a 5-3-2, Pjanic, Khedira and Mandzukic will almost certainly be the ones starting in the midfield. The latter used to be a striker when he was with Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid but he now works defensively away from the opposition's goal. Apparently, this is how Juventus will play, although a 4-4-2 formation with Pjanic, Khedira, Mandzukic and Cuadrado could also be used. It would be reasonable for Allegri to keep Cuadrado fresh on the bench until the last third of the match, though, as the Colombian winger could be a big game-changer off the bench.
Managing Madrid's verdict
Real Madrid have a better midfield line with Kroos and Modric. These two players might form the best midfielder-duo in European football and Casemiro's work-rate and physicality allows them to play with freedom. Add Isco to that equation and Real Madrid should be able to control and dominate the tempo of the game. Los Blancos will still need to work defensively as Juventus could be very dangerous off counterattacks and that's why Casemiro is still an undisputed starter for Real.
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.
Available TV: FOX (USA), BeIN Sports (Spain).
Available streaming: FOX (USA), Fubo.TV (EVERY Real Madrid game with a high-quality and legal stream, click here to sign up and benefit from a huge offer for new members and Managing Madrid readers).