Rock-solid Juve may be able to halt Madrid’s flying forwards
Old Lady primed for Cardiff glory
Champions League final
Saturday 7.45pm, BT Sport 2 & Showcase
Real Madrid have the opportunity to become the first team to retain the Champions League since the competition was rebranded in 1992, but they must try to find a way past a Juventus outfit who look determined to win this title for the first time in 21 years when the sides clash in Cardiff.
Real are the most successful team in European history and have not looked back since landing La Decima in 2014, adding an 11th crown to their collection last season.
The Old Lady, meanwhile, have come up short in a record six finals, including most recently when outgunned by a brilliant Barcelona team two years ago.
But the two-time winners got their revenge over the Catalans in the quarter-finals this term in a tie they never looked like losing. A thumping 3-0 win in Turin was followed by a masterful defensive performance at Camp Nou as Max Allegri’s men stamped their claims on this competition.
Allegri and Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane are both used to success. Both won their domestic leagues and both will be confident of victory.
The final is expected to come down to a battle of attack against defence. Los Blancos’ flying forwards are set to engage in combat with Juve’s brilliant backline.
Allegri has a decision to make. He may opt to deploy a 3-5-2 formation, as he did against Monaco, in which Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli provide the perfect screen to the goalkeeping talents of the ageless Gigi Buffon.
Alternatively, the Juve boss may choose to adopt the 4-2-3-1 formation that he has favoured for much of this season, including when shutting out Barcelona for 180 minutes.
They’ve conceded just three goals in the competition and if they can keep Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates quiet, as they did against Barca and in the first leg against free-scoring Monaco, then they look value to lift the trophy.
That's easier said than done, of course. Real have scored in 64 straight matches and it will take another herculean defensive performance to prevent them from striking again.
Allegri’s team can deliver just that but they are much more than just a solid defence.
With attacking talents like Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain among their ranks, they possess the quality to open up a Los Blancos side who have looked far from solid at times this season. Back them to deny Real a 12th title.
Juventus to lift the trophy
3pts Evs general
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