Serie-A champions Juventus will take on La Liga champions Real Madrid tomorrow in a star-studded epic final for the UEFA Champions League trophy.
Football fans across the world will be disappointed as this season has almost come to an end, but they all have one final match to look forward to – the Champions League final between Juventus and Real Madrid.
Juventus took a giant stride in the right direction as they beat AS Monaco in the semi-finals, taking their quest further to win a Champions League title since 1995/96. In fact, they will go into this final as the clear favourites to finally lift the glittering trophy.
While Real Madrid will prove to formidable opponents, The Hard Tackle takes a look at five reasons why Juventus are better poised to win the coveted tournament.
1. Juventus’ world famous defence
The Italian champions have been praised time and again for their defence throughout the season. Their defensive prowess was evident in both legs of the quarter-final of the Champions League wherein they out-classed Barcelona to deny them a semi-final qualification.
The first leg saw them attack relentlessly and win 3-0, while the second leg saw them restrict a dangerous attack comprising of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar to a 0-0 scoreline – a performance that was eventually hailed as a defensive master stroke.
Juventus have the strongest defence in the competition and it will be interesting to see how they fare against Real Madrid – a team which was praised for their attack this season.
More often than not, Juventus deploy four defenders in the back line as Gianluigi Buffon mans the goal. Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci take up the responsibility of the central defence while Dani Alves and Alex Sandro occupy the full-back slots.
The fact that they managed to shut out a team like Barcelona itself speaks volumes about their capablities but if they manage to do the same against Real Madrid, it will be a proven fact that the Juventus defence is truly impenetrable at this point.
2. The Italians have a balanced and well-rounded squad
Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini form a world-class central defensive partnership which has proven to be as solid as a wall. With Gianluigi Buffon in goal and full-backs Dani Alves and Alex Sandro, Juventus’s defence is as strong as it gets.
Andrea Barzagli and Juan Cuadrado have also provided ample support whenever they played, thus providing Allegri with the option of tweaking and changing his formations as and when needed.
The Italians also boast of midfielders like Miralem Pjanic and Sami Khedira who can establish their dominion over the centre of the pitch. They also have a defensive forward in Mario Mandzukic, and the wings are guarded with the help of their full-backs.
As far as their attack is concerned, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain form a lethal combination and are capable of ripping apart even the strongest of defences and they never miss out on opportunities to score.
Real Madrid does have a strong attack with Cristiano Ronaldo leading from the front, but they have several gaps in their defence which can be capitalized upon. Casemiro has been an able defender for Los Blancos, but there are crucial set pieces which Juve can exploit.
Considering the players of all areas in both teams, Juventus appear to be stronger in every aspect and will certainly come out on top as the better-drilled squad.
3. The sheer brilliance that is Massimiliano Allegri
Allegri took charge of Juventus back in 2014 from Antonio Conte and he came in at a time when a majority of the fans were unhappy at his appointment since he managed rivals AC Milan prior to that. However, he stood strong through all challenges for the Turin side.
He managed to notch a double in his debut season as Juventus picked up the league title along with the Coppa Italia. However, they had to endure a devastating defeat at the hands of Barcelona in the finals of the 2014/15 Champions League, but times have changed now.
Juventus have now gone 621 minutes without conceding a single goal in the Champions League.
The best defence in the business. ? pic.twitter.com/CDmfMAyvzf
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 3, 2017
The 2015/16 season saw Juve improve as far as trophies are concerned. They bagged the league title, Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana.This season though they have already won the Serie-A and the Coppa Italia. Winning the Champions League will ensure they script a historic season by winning a treble.
Throughout his period of being in charge of Juventus, he has strengthened each side of the team. Even as far as transfers go, Allegri has managed to outplay his opponents in picking up choicest prospects.
Higuain has provided them with a strong attack, Pjanic has managed to take over possession of the midfield from Andrea Pirlo and Dani Alves has been a stronger than ever in the backline and on the wings.
The way he reads the game, opponents and their playing styles is truly commendable. He loves tweaking his side based on the type of opponent he is facing and has ensured that he has a strong team that allows him to make such changes.
4. A formidable attack spearheaded by Gonzalo Higuain
The Argentine duo formed by Higuain and Paulo Dybala have always managed to make the most of even the tiniest of opportunities and net noteworthy goals.
In fact, Higuain has scored a total of 23 goals in the Serie A this season and Dybala has scored nine – a feat that propelled Juventus to win their sixth successive league title. With about 32 goals between them, the duo have accounted for almost half of the club’s 70 goals this season.
Gonzalo Higuaín best seasons by goals at club level
2015/16: Napoli – 38 goals
2016/17: Juventus – 31 goals
2009/10: Real Madrid – 29 goals pic.twitter.com/Ir6S6tOPdl
— 8 Fact Football (@8Fact_Footballl) May 3, 2017
Their Champions League is equally impressive as the duo scored nine goals between them even as Juventus recorded 19 goals in the competition. Be it a crucial do-or-die encounter or some random fixture, Higuain has proven to be the missing piece in the Juventus squad.
The fact that both Dybala and Higuain can cover up for each other on field is what sets them apart from other attacking duos. Dybala’s brace helped Juve see off Barcelona in the quarter-final, while Higuain’s double against Monaco sealed their fate in the semi-finals.
Real Madrid have weak areas in their defence and the deadly duo are sure to take full advantage of the same.
5. Simply because it is Juventus’ time
This might sound like a silly reason compared to the others, but this could be the one that holds most weight.
Juventus were subjected to a devastating defeat in the 2015 final to Barcelona and since then, winning a Champions League trophy has become top priority for the Italian side.
They spent a whopping €90million to sign 28-year-old striker Gonzalo Higuain, which goes to show how strongly Allegri feels about winning the coveted Champions League trophy. They might have lost players like Paul Pogba, Andrea Pirlo and Carlos Tevez, but this team is stronger and better.
Also, most of their crucial players are close to 30 or past 30, so it could probably be the last chance at Champions League success for this particular squad.
Ultimately, the fact is that they have a strongly balanced team, a tactical magician in the form of a manager, the most impenetrable defence and two lethal strikers. There cannot be a better chance for Juventus to win the Champions League for the first time since 1995/96.