After a two-week hiatus, Real Madrid returns to the pitch for the biggest game of their season. Zidane’s men have clinched their record 33rd Spanish league title and now want to be the first team in the Champions League era to win the competition two consecutive years running. The head-to-head record between Juventus and Real Madrid is deadlocked, with eight wins each and two draws. Though, there is one small caveat to that statistic: The lone European final in which the two teams have met saw Real Madrid win 1-0.
Juventus steam-rolled through the group-stages, earning the top-spot ahead of Sevilla, Lyon, and Dinamo Zagreb. The knockout rounds saw the Bianconeri draw Porto, Barcelona, and Monaco. The Italians swept aside all three opponents. Their most resounding result was a home win, 3-0, versus Barcelona in which Dybala outshined Messi, Suarez, and Neymar. Max Allegri, Juventus coach, has been near perfect with his tactics throughout the competition. His system gets the best out of danger men like Dani Alves, Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuaín, and center back trio of Bonucci-Barzagli-Chiellini. The Italian has looked a genius with the conversion of Mario Mandzukic from a pure target striker to a hardworking, defensively-sound, and physically-imposing left sided midfield/winger. The tactical discipline showed by Mandzukic, the wingbacks, and the midfield engine of Khedira and Pjanic, frees Juventus’ best player, Dybala. Dybala has four goals in the Champions League this season and the freedom afforded to him in Allegri’s tactical scheme has maximized his potential and proved he is one of the best young players in all of world football. Keeping the Argentine playmaker quiet will be key for Real Madrid to have success in Cardiff.
As a true Italian team, Juventus greatest strength is their defense, both at an individual level and collectively. Boasting their very own BBC (Bonnuci, Barzagli, & Chiellini) along with the ageless Gigi Buffon, the Italians have kept nine clean sheets from 12 games, proving how difficult they are to breakdown. Madrid, a team that has scored at least one goal in every single game this season, will face their toughest test yet in order to keep their goal-scoring streak alive.
The group stages saw Real Madrid finish 2nd behind Borussia Dortmund. Along with the Germans, Madrid faced Portugal’s Sporting Lisbon and Poland’s Legia Warsaw. It was the knock-out rounds where Madrid began to peak. Against Napoli in the round of 16, (of whom Juventus have beat once, drawn once, and lost once against in 2017) Madrid took both home and away 3-1 wins. The obstacles to a 2nd consecutive title only became harder as Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid came calling in the next rounds. Hat tricks from Cristiano Ronaldo against both Bayern Munich and Atletico, as well as stand out performances from the likes of Asensio, Isco, Marcelo, Kroos, and Modric saw Madrid progress.
One of Madrid’s greatest strengths this season has been their ability to adapt to the demands of a game. They can beat their opposition by playing direct, playing short and quick incisive passing, counter-attacking, or patient possession based build-up. With unique players like Marcelo, Isco, Benzema, and Modric, who can breakdown stalwart defenses through 1v1 battles and direct dribbling, Madrid can find solutions to whatever problem they encounter in a game. The solutions are also on the bench. Players like Asensio, James, Morata, Lucas Vazquez, and Kovacic all can come in and change a game. Zidane has trusted all his players throughout the entire season. By spreading the minutes played across all the members of his squad, Zidane has given himself a number of solutions to unlock the Juventus defense. If Madrid are indeed crowned as Champions on June 3rd, Zidane and Madrid will have changed world football, proving that a collective squad is more important than just the top 12 to 14 players on a team.
Come Saturday, questions will be asked and sub-plots will unravel. Who starts, Isco or Bale—or both? Can Madrid break the curse and win two consecutive Champions League titles, defying what no other team has done before? Or will Juventus secure the treble and will Gigi Buffon finally get his Champions League crown? Who will shine brighter—Ronaldo or Dybala? The Millennium Stadium will hold the answer to all these questions and more. History will be made on June 3rd, but only one of Juventus or Madrid will be celebrating.
Predicted Line Ups:
Real Madrid: Navas, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo, Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Isco, Benzema, Ronaldo
Juventus: Buffon, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini, Dani Alves, Alex Sandro, Pjanic, Khedira, Manduzick, Dybala, Higuain
Real Madrid 1 (Cristiano Ronaldo) - Juventus 0
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.
|Result (1)||Score (2)||Goal Scorers (3)||Total Score|
|Result (1)||Score (2)||Goal Scorers (3)||Total Score|
|Om||RM Win||2-1||CR7, Ramos; Higuaín||42|
|Kiyan||RM Win||3-1||Benz, CR7, Asensio; Pjanic||45|
|Timm||RM Win||2-1 (RM win extra time)||CR7, Ramos; Dybala||41|
|Lucas||RM Loss||1-2||CR7; Higuaín, Dybala||26|
|Nate||RM Win||4-2||-CR7x2, Bale, Morata; Higuain, Dybala||47|
|Tommy||RM Loss||1-2||Benz; Higuaín, Mandzukic||19|
|Naguib||RM Win||2-0||CR7, Bale||29|
|Ondra||RM Win||2-0||CR7, Ramos||18|
|Jack||RM Win||2-2 (RM win on pk's 4-3)||CR7, Ramos; Dybala x2||6|
|José||RM Win||3-1||CR7 x2, Morata; Mandzukic||3|