The time is almost finally here as Real Madrid take on Juventus in the Final of the UEFA Champions League held in Cardiff, Wales this year. Both teams come into the game with many reasons to feel confident but will also be worried given what’s at stake.
Before we go forward in this, I feel the need to share my personal feelings as I write this two days before the match takes place…
I have been lucky enough to witness the team that I support reach two UEFA Champions League Finals in the past three years AND win both against our city rivals, Atletico Madrid. Even though the matches were tough and gave us a lot of ups and downs, I always had this certainty in my head that no matter what happened, we were going to win. I knew we were genuinely a better team than Atletico Madrid in both occasions and I knew that Los Merengues would definitely show up to the game. This time, I am honestly not sure what to expect at all.
Yes, we will show up to the game, there is no doubt about the hunger that our team has but we cannot deny how good the Juventus side are this season. They have steamrolled over all their opponents on the way to the final and will feel as though this title on this year is their right. They will arrive in Cardiff with the idea that they deserve the title. Maybe they do. With both teams fully deserving to be in this final, the team that win the match will therefore completely deserve the title. It won’t be that easy for the fans though and it will be a LONG day for everyone involved.
I still have not watched my team lose a European Final and I hope that it does not change on Saturday night…
Let’s begin with Juventus. Having recently won the Serie A, the Italian champions are flying high and the scariest part about them is that they are completely aware of how good they are. It was evident mainly in the first-leg against Barcelona as they were in complete control and didn’t let the Catalans faze them one bit. Yes, we can look at the fact that Barcelona haven’t been anywhere near their best during this season but we shouldn’t take away how good of a performance we saw from the Italian giants.
Let’s have a quick look at their Road to Cardiff –
Juventus 0-0 Sevilla
Dinamo Zagreb 0-4 Juventus
Lyon 0-1 Juventus
Juventus 1-1 Lyon
Sevilla 1-3 Juventus
Juventus 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb
Porto 0-2 Juventus
Juventus 1-0 Porto
Juventus 3-0 Barcelona
Barcelona 0-0 Juventus
AS Monaco 0-2 Juventus
Juventus 2-1 AS Monaco
A road where they faced all types of opponents, especially in the knockout round. First, they took on Porto in the second round and were able to get through that hurdle with relative ease before taking on a Barcelona side that have just come out of a fresh history-making match against Paris Saint-Germain. The Italians not only handled themselves well but came out with a shocking 3-0 victory at home before getting the job done easily in Spain. Then, in the semi-finals, they took on an extremely exciting Monaco side that were the story of the season but Juventus were simply too much for them to handle.
Now, they take on Real Madrid in a match that has caused so much talk among both fanbases over the last couple weeks that no one knows exactly what they should expect on the night.
My Predicted Starting Lineup –
Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Dani Alves, Miralem Pjanic, Sami Khedira, Paulo Dybala, Mario Mandzukic, Gonzalo Higuain
Now, let’s take a look at the Real Madrid side that are on the verge of making history as the first team to win back-to-back UEFA Champions League titles since the change of the competition’s name.
This campaign has been quite a controversial one for Real Madrid, especially when looking at their wins against Bayern Munich. Having said that, I don’t believe that anyone can deny that Los Merengues are deserved finalists and, unlike last season, no one can say that they made it to the final by luck or that the draw was favorable towards the Spanish Champions. Just like Juventus, Real Madrid will be on an absolute high after winning La Liga for the first time in five years and will want to continue their great season by adding the UEFA Champions League title as well.
Real Madrid’s Road to Cardiff –
Real Madrid 2-1 Sporting Lisbon
Borussia Dortmund 2-2 Real Madrid
Real Madrid 5-1 Legia Warsaw
Legia Warsaw 3-3 Real Madrid
Sporting Lisbon 1-2 Real Madrid
Real Madrid 2-2 Borussia Dortmund
Real Madrid 3-1 Napoli
Napoli 1-3 Real Madrid
Bayern Munich 1-2 Real Madrid
Real Madrid 4-2 Bayern Munich
Real Madrid 3-0 Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid 1-2 Real Madrid
It has been a campaign of ups and downs for Real Madrid as they never fail to cause unrest for the worldwide Madridistas. Having said that, they were able to get the job done in the end and will now have to face one last hurdle before claiming the trophy. With about two weeks to prepare for the match, they have had plenty of time for rest and have also been able to welcome back Dani Carvajal from injury with a big chance that Gareth Bale will have a chance of being called up as well.
My Predicted Starting Lineup:
Keylor Navas, Daniel Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Carlos Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Isco, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema