Saturday 3 June 2017

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL! Real Madrid VS Juventus - Saturday (03/06/2017)

Real Madrid VS Juventus
Saturday (03/06/2017)
19:45 (WAT)

The big finale of the European club season will hit Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Saturday night when the Spanish and Italian champions clash

Real Madrid have the chance to become the first team to successfully defend the Champions League in its current format when they face Juventus in Saturday's final.

The Spanish and Italians champions will clash at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, in what promises to be one of the most engaging finals of recent years.

Bianconeri fans will hope to see Gianluigi Buffon with a Champions League winner's medal around his neck for the first time, while Cristiano Ronaldo can strengthen his Ballon d'Or bid by adding to the astonishing total of eight goals he scored in the quarter and semi-finals.

Gareth Bale has trained and is fit to play some part but has admitted he may not be able to last 90 minutes, meaning Isco is likely to start at the top of a midfield diamond.

Otherwise Madrid are at full strength, with Dani Carvajal ready to go after a hamstring problem and only Pepe and Fabio Coentrao, both of whom appear set to leave the club this summer, absent from training.

Potential starting XI: Navas; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Casemiro; Modric, Kroos; Isco; Benzema, Ronaldo.

Massimiliano Allegri has had success with more than one formation in this season's competition but speculation has suggested he will deploy a three-man defence for the final.

That would mean the only real selection dilemma the Italian has is whether to field Sami Khedira or Claudio Marchisio next to Miralem Pjanic in midfield.

Potential starting XI: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Dani Alves, Pjanic, Khedira, Alex Sandro; Dybala, Higuain, Mandzukic.

This feels like it might be the most evenly matched - and difficult to predict - Champions League final for several years.

The past few editions of European club football's biggest game have all involved either an underdog or a team - such as Inter in 2010, Chelsea in 2012 and, to a lesser extent, Atletico Madrid in two of the past three finals - with a more defensive, reactive outlook.

Atleti have twice attempted to shock their more prestigious neighbours Real Madrid, Juventus were powerless to resist Barcelona's 'MSN' forward trio in between and going further back, Bayern Munich and Barca had too much for Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United (twice) respectively.

This time, though Madrid are slight favourites, it is hard to say with much certainty on whose terms the final will be played.

Juventus look tighter at the back, but having a formidable defence is not the same as being a defensive team and in Dani Alves, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain they possess plenty of attacking firepower.

Madrid have the game's best player in Cristiano Ronaldo and a star-studded midfield, but are not the dominant force that Juve tried and failed to stop when they faced Barca in Berlin two years ago.

It would be a surprise if more than one goal separates these two sides and perhaps Gareth Bale, likely to come off the bench in his home city, will have the chance to decide it.

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