Juventus vs Barcelona – UEFA Champions League Final Preview, Stats, Lineups and Prediction
Two treble hopefuls will step out on the Olympiastadion grass, when Juventus will take on FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League Final.
Buoyed by respective league and domestic cup triumphs, the continent’s two best teams will be no short of belief for the Berlin showdown.
The Italian defensive stereotype vs the Spanish masterclass.
Juve’s Champions League final preparations were delivered a huge blow in the form of Giorgio Chiellini, who is set to miss the Berlin final through a calf injury. The Italian center-half pulled out of training on Wednesday, and won’t be available for selection along with Martín Cáceres; who misses due to an ankle problem.
Luis Enrique meanwhile will have the luxury to select from a fully fit squad, albeit from Andres Iniesta, who is a minor doubt, and should be available.
There would be no better opportunity to assess Pogba’s ability at the highest level. Barcelona have been linked to the precocious Frenchman, and his stock could further rise with a warriors showing in Berlin. Possessing incredible pedigree, athleticism and technique, there is no surprise that the 22-year-old is being quoted in the 100 million brackets. Pogba could be assigned to smear the dangerous Lionel Messi in what could be the most important game of his life.
Having broken Madrid hearts on two successive occasions, Alvaro Morata has vowed Los Blancos that he will try and gun down Barcelona for them. Although Morata hasn’t been prolific, he has found the back of the net on important occasions like the semi-final, and the goalscoring onus will be on him once again. A match-winning goal could see Morata win Europe’s most elite competition for the second consecutive time.
Sergio Busquets is arguably Barcelona’s most importantly, yet criminally trivialized. The man from Sabadell is Blaugrana’s brain. A stagnant railing in front of the back-four, Busquets exemplifies the archetypal midfield pivot role. The 26-year-old possesses incredible passing range for a player alluded as a ‘dirty worker’, while his reading of the game is even more overwhelming. Juve are most likely to operate with all four of their first choice midfielders in a diamond, and Busquets will come up against the toughest of the lot; Arturo Vidal.
Marc-André ter Stegen
Replacing Victor Valdes wasn’t easy. Barcelona recruited two keepers to replace the departing veteran, and the decision has paid off. While Claudio Bravo kept between the sticks in the La Liga, Ter Stegen has been indispensable in other competitions. Eyebrows wouldn’t be raised if Ter Stegen is made an undisputed starter in all competitions next season, such has been the impact of the young German. The 23-year-old is comfortable on the ball, and also has astonishing reflexes to couple with it. Ter Stegen made some critical saves against Bayern Munich, and his side will be expecting the same from him in his country.
• Juventus and Barcelona will play the European Cup/Champions League final for the 8th time in their history.
• Barcelona will play a Champions League final for the fourth time since 2006 – more than any other team in the same period.
• This will be the 7th European Cup/Champions League final between an Italian side and a Spanish one: Italian teams have won only twice.
• Juventus have lost their last three CL finals played, after winning on penalties against Ajax in 1995/96
• This season Barcelona have averaged their lowest possession rate (60.95%) in the Champions League since detailed data collection in 2003/04.
• By contrast, Juventus have averaged their highest possession rate (56.19%) in the Champions League since detailed data collection in 2003/04.
Andrea Barzagli for the injured Chiellini will be the only change for the Bianconeri.
Expect no tinkering from Enrique. Same team that thrashed Bayern Munich.
There will be goals from both sides, a no brainer. Juventus will try and smother Barca’s foray’s, but their resistance will eventually be broken by either of the MSN (Messi, Suarez, Neymar) trio. 1-2
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Image Credits: Eurosport, Express, Bleacher.
Sunil A Markal
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