With a fair amount of luck in crucial encounters and playing the entire season with great composure, Real Madrid look unbeatable at the top. Booking the spot in the Champions League final, with colossal victories over Napoli, Bayern Munich and city rivals Atletico Madrid, they made sure that their course to Cardiff remains unhindered.
On the other hand, the recently crowned Italian champions have gathered a fair range of appreciation with their impenetrable defence and great counter-attacking abilities. Bagging home the Serie A title for a sixth consecutive time and winning the Coppa Italia, Juventus have been dominating Italian football and no other teams in the league seems to match the potential the team possess.
However, the pain of not winning the Champions League back in Berlin, in 2015, could quite well play in the mind of some of the players. But if there is one team that would be eager to turn things around on their miserable record in Champions League finals, it is this Juventus side.
Buffon aiming to become oldest European Cup winner
Sharing a reputation of being considered as one of the best keepers in the world, the 39-year-old Italian has beaten age and still manages to get better with every passing day. Making more than 600 appearances for Juventus, the keeper has already eight Serie A titles and three Coppa Italia. However, despair in 2003 and 2015 Champions League finals keeps him away from one of the most coveted silverware of his career.
With Ronaldo considered as one of the strongest candidates for the Ballon d’Or, a win for Juventus at Cardiff may just be enough to break the shackles of the endless Ronaldo-Messi debate for the individual football award. Buffon has not just been appreciated and backed by his teammates for the Ballon d’Or but the likes of Gerard Pique and Antoine Griezmann have also commended his performance. If Buffon goes on to win the Ballon d’Or, he will be the first goalkeeper to achieve this since Lev Yashin, who won the award in 1963.
Juventus’ impenetrable defence line
The defence has been top notch for the Italian giants hailing from Turin. The team has conceded just three goals throughout the tournament with one in the knockout matches. With world class defenders and a superb keeper in the side, even arguably the world’s best-attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar were seen helpless in netting the ball past Buffon. Holding Barcelona goalless in both the quarter-final legs proves the mettle of the Juventus defenders.
Juventus’ own version of BBC (Barzagli, Bonucci and Chiellini) has been the backbone of the team’s great run in the Champions League. The trio has now shared the dressing room for almost seven years and has developed a telepathic communication between them. The addition of Dani Alves in the squad from Barcelona on a free transfer has made things tougher for the opponents. His galloping run from one D to the other has completely impacted Juventus forward play often leading to exposing the opponent’s defence.
Ever since Gareth Bale was ruled out from the playing eleven due to a calf injury, Isco has been Zidane’s most preferable alternative for the Welshman. And, ahead of the Champions League final Bale’s fitness still remains a concern for the manager.
On the other hand, Isco who was included in the starting eleven in Bale’s absence has been flawless and has met Zidane’s expectations. Even after being gifted with great footwork, the player has often been criticised for being inconsistent and had always found difficulties in making to the team’s starting eleven. However, the last two months have been completely different for the Spaniard. The Frenchman seems very happy with Isco’s new role in the midfield position. Praising Isco after a thumping 6-2 win over Deportivo La Coruna, Zidane in the post game news conference said, “He does things on the pitch that not everybody can. The [Depor] fans congratulated him, I am happy for him, for the work he does. When he has to play he always does his job.”
Zidane, Real Madrid aiming to create history
A win against Juventus in the finals will not just help Real Madrid to retain their supremacy in Europe, but it will also make them the first team to win the Champions League two years in a row. Winning the La Liga back at home, Club World Cup and already booking the Champions League title in his first season, Zidane has already made his mark as a manager. With endless achievements already listed below his name as a player and now achieving new feats in this role, the former Madrid man would be keen to conquer yet another glory for him and the team.