Two giants of European football line-up for what should be a fascinating Champions League Final.
The final will be a real contrast in styles with Real Madrid the open and attacking force against the tactically disciplined and more robust style of Juventus. The bookies currently have Real Madrid as the favourites, however, I believe that is more a result of reputation and the fact that Real are the (slightly) bigger name and doesn’t have quite so much to do with the reality. A bit like when England are among the bookies favourites for major tournaments.
Juventus have been the dominant force in Serie A in recent years, winning six league titles on the bounce, but have failed to translate that dominance onto the European stage, other than an appearance in the final when convincingly beaten by Barcelona two years ago. However, they have improved since that final defeat and have arguably been the best side in the tournament this year; progressing relatively comfortably and moving up through the gears through the knockout stages. The way in which they brushed Barca aside suggests they have moved to the next level and can win the Champions League.
I have heard some questions raised around the quality of Juve, with some saying Gonzalo Higuain is a flat track bully and the defence is aging and could struggle against the attacking force of Real. Higuain might not have scored that many goals in the latter stages of tournaments but he has scored goals everywhere he has played and you could argue he hasn’t scored many goals in the latter stages of The Champions League due to the fact he has spent recent years at Napoli, who weren’t expected to reach the latter stages. Whilst on the defensive side, the facts do not support that argument as Juventus have been defensively brilliant in Europe this season, highlighted by their wins against Barca and Monaco.
The job that Zinedine Zidane has done at Real Madrid cannot be underestimated, in around 18 months he has won a European Cup, won Real’s first league title in five years and has the chance to win a successive European titles. In contrast to Juventus, Real are not so tactically versatile and are more reliant on particular individuals in key positions, and not just the obvious big names in the attacking positions. Throughout the season Real haven’t actually been at their best and some have questioned their quality, going through periods of grinding out results, but one could surely argue that the ability to grind it out is the sign of a good side. They might not be as aesthetically brilliant as previous real sides but that they do have a strength and resilience that other versions may have lacked.
Despite not having the tactical scope of Juve, Real do of course have the individual players who can win a game with a moment of brilliance. However, I think Juventus will be too good for Real, I think they have shown themselves to the best team in Europe this season and tactically they will just have too much for the Spaniards. Max Allegri is one of the best tactical thinkers in the game right now and I just think he will be able out-think Zidane and set-up his side to nullify the threat of and outmanoeuvre Real.
It will be close, but The Old Lady are the better football team and are the value bet at 2/1. Although Real are always an attacking threat and with the forward talent in their side are always a good bet to score, however, Juve are defensively brilliant and they kept two clean sheets against a Barca side who outscored Real in La Liga, so i’m even tempted by a punt on Juve to win to nil.
I’m going against the market, but the value is with Juve and in my opinion they are the better side so worth siding with.
Juventus – 2pts @ 2/1 (Betfair)
Juventus to Win to Nil – ½ pt @ 7/2 (32Red)