Juventus are Serie A champions while Real Madrid are also champions of Spain. In UEFA coefficient, this should not have been the final – it should have been the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich or Manchester City joining Real Madrid in this final – but clearly, the Old Lady have defied all the odds.
Beaten finalists three years ago, they have strengthened and now look the real deal – from defence to attack – while Madrid have quietly become a team instead of a collection of highly talented players. Cristiano Ronaldo has become more team driven and has rested some of his ego as Zinedine Zidane continuously forged a team from its individual parts.
Juve are definitely stronger here and bringing in former Barcelona defender, Dani Alves, has strengthened them much more. Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, and Andrea Barzagli may collectively be the oldest triumvirate in the UCL this season, but their experience has limited the goals conceded in 12 matches to just three.
For Madrid, their defence is more effectively hinged on the attack. Full backs, Dany Carvajal [doubtful] and Marcelo are two of the most offensive minded defenders on the planet and have contributed so much going forward and may often leave their backs bare. But that offensive nous is definitely reduced if Danilo gets to start the final.
Score: Juventus 9/10; Real Madrid 6/10
The addition of Miralem Pjanic added guile and free-kick specialty to the Juve middle while Sami Khedira can run all day even though it could be Claudio Marchisio starting because of an injury to the German. There is also the duo of Alex Sandro and Dani Alves, who are the runners on the flanks. Alves has been magnificent in the last four UCL matches and he would be dangerous again on Saturday. For Madrid, there is the masterful Toni Kroos, the quintessential orchestrator, joined by the impish Luka Modric. We cannot forget their enforcer, Casimero, who would have to rein in a bit of his aggression to enjoy 90 minutes of the encounter.
Score: Juventus 7/10; Real Madrid 8/10
Here we are spoilt for choice from both sides. Madrid boast the in-form Isco who literally ran the Real Madrid show with seven games to go in the league. But no one can brag more than Cristiano Ronaldo for the opportunism and deadliness he showed from the quarterfinal stage by scoring eight very important goals. Karim Benzema is often forgotten but many analysts know that it is his selfless running that creates space for Ronaldo to strike. His impudent skill and running created the killer goal against Atletico in the second leg of the semifinal.
Juve also have their magicians in Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain, and Mario Mandzukic. Though this trio is not as stellar and as potent as the Ronaldo-led Real Madrid forwards, they are very hard working, full of invention and selfless.
Score: Juventus 7/10; Real Madrid 9/10
These two teams seem well matched and the final could be a low scoring one even though neutrals would be praying for an early goal so that the action would be end-to-end. From their total scores, this game may have to be decided on penalties where the experience and know-how of Juve’s Gianluigi Buffon could sway the equation from the Keylor Navas – and this is why we love this game.
Total Scores: Juventus 23/30; Real Madrid 23/30
Juventus [3-4-2-1]: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Alves, Pjanic, Khedira, Sandro; Mandzukic, Dybala; Higuain
Real Madrid [4-3-1-2]: Navas; Danilo, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Isco; Benzema, Ronaldo