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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Dybala ready to show he has reached world-class standard

Paulo Dybala celebrates Juve being crowned Serie A champions
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It was little over two years ago that former Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini declared Paulo Dybala "the Messi of the future" but many believed it was just a bid to raise the transfer fee as Europe's finest scrambled to sign the little Argentinian forward.

Zamparini's claims don't look too far off these days and Dybala, fresh from playing a huge part in eliminating Messi's Barcelona in the quarter-finals, can show he has reached world class by notching for Juventus against Real Madrid in the Champions League final.

Dybala scored 19 Serie A goals in his first season at Juve, a figure which dropped to 11 this term as the 23-year-old was used in a slightly more withdrawn role to accommodate countryman Gonzalo Higuain.

However, that has not stopped Dybala from smashing a double past Barca and he comes into this with successive goals in Serie A games against Crotone and Bologna. The Crotone strike was a wonderful free kick and the delightful Dybala also takes penalties.

Real Madrid will always give opponents opportunities and they have conceded 17 goals in their 12 Champions League matches this season. Spot-kicks were conceded in both matches against Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals and away to Atletico in the semi-final.

That lack of defensive discipline could cost Real Madrid dear and always means holding midfielder Casemiro is overworked covering for his more talented teammates who love to pour forward.

Only CSKA Moscow's Pontus Wernbloom averages more tackles per match in this season's Champions League than Casemiro who will make five tackles if he keeps up his competition average.

Clogger Casemiro is worth backing for the first card and so is Juve's Giorgio Chiellini. Somebody in that Juve defence will be looking for an early reducer on Cristiano Ronaldo and Chiellini tends to enter the notebook in the crunch clashes.

Chiellini has been booked against Napoli, Fiorentina, Inter, Barcelona and Monaco this term and is more likely to revert to foul tactics than classy centre-back partner Leonardo Bonucci.

Another small-stakes punt that looks overpriced is Dani Alves to be credited with an assist.

Only Neymar (eight), Ousmane Dembele (six) and Ronaldo (five) have more Champions League assists than Alves, who has set up a teammate on four occasions.

Alves has been absolutely rampant in recent matches and is on a mission to prove Barca wrong for letting him leave last summer.

Max Allegri has given the Brazilian licence to attack and, if as expected, Alves starts on the right wing he could make a mockery of 14-1 quotes judging by his semi-final performances against Monaco.

Bet365 and Betfair are among the bookmakers to have reported money for 39-year-old goalkeeper and 9-1 poke Gigi Buffon to be named man of the match.

Buffon, who has never won the Champions League, must have a decent chance of landing the sentimental vote and he is likely to be worked by Real Madrid even if the Turin team are triumphant.

Ronaldo is the 4-1 man-of-the-match favourite but Isco looks a lively alternative after producing a number of superb displays during Real Madrid's successful title run-in.

P Dybala to score
1pt 10-3 Paddy Power
Casemiro first player carded
0.5pt 8-1 BetBright
G Chiellini first player carded
0.5pt 12-1 bet365
D Alves anytime assist
0.5pt 14-1 Betfair


Bookmakers have reported money for 39-year-old goalkeeper and 9-1 poke Gigi Buffon to be named man of the match
E.W. Terms
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