Champions League Final – Match Preview

Real Madrid will be looking to be the first team to retain the Champions League in the modern era as they face Serie A Champions Juventus at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Since the birth of the modern Champions League back in 1993, no team has managed to win the trophy in consecutive years. The last team to retain it was AC Milan back when it was branded the European Cup, when they won it in 1989 and retained in 1990.

Real Madrid won the Champions League last year on penalties against local rivals Atletico Madrid.

Juventus last won the competition in 1996 under former Italy boss Marcelo Lippi and in their last four appearances in the final they have finished runners-up. In 2015 they lost to Real Madrid’s biggest rivals Barcelona 3-1.

The Italian side are on the verge of becoming the ninth team in history to complete the league, domestic cup and European cup treble. Should they achieve it on Saturday, they will become the second Italian team to achieve this feat, since Inter Milan accomplished the treble in the 2009/10 season.

Manager Massimo Allegri has received plaudits for his style of play and success with Juventus this season

Road to the final

Group Stages

Juventus topped their group and finished undefeated in their group with teams such as Sevilla, Lyon and Dinamo Zagreb. The Old Lady scored eleven goals in six Champions League groups, conceding two goals in process.

Real Madrid finished second in their group behind German side Borussia Dortmund and they also remained undefeated. Los Blancos scored sixteen goals and conceded ten in the group games.

Knockout Stages- Round of 16

Juventus faced Portugese side FC Porto in the last 16 and comfortably beat them 3-0 on aggregate to progress through to the Quarter-Finals. Goals from Pjaca, Dani Alves and Paulo Dybala put the Italian side through over the two legged tie.

Holders Real Madrid had a comfortable outing against Napoli over the tie beating them 6-2 on aggregate. Napoli rarely looked as though they would get back in the tie and were up against it form the off.

Quarter finals

Juventus squared off against Barcelona in the quarters and produced a terrific display over both legs. In the home tie, Juventus stunned Barcelona beating them by 3-0 in the first leg. Paulo Dybala produced a fine performance, scoring twice. In the away leg, Juve’s defence was solid as ever as they saw out a 0-0 draw with Barcelona.

Real Madrid faced Bayern Munich in a clash between two European heavyweights. Madrid showed their European pedigree over both legs beating the German Champions 6-3. Talisman Cristiano Ronaldo was the star of the show, scoring a hat-trick in the second leg.

Semi finals

Juventus faced another big test coming up against free scoring Monaco in the semi-finals. In the first leg, they displayed a professional performance away from home, with Gonzalo Higuain and Dani Alves standing out for the Italian side. Juventus saw out the tie in the home leg as well and they eventually ran out 4-1 winners over the two legs.

It was two Madrid derbies that took place in the semis as Real took on Atletico. Real essentially took the tie away from Atletico in the first leg, beating them by 3-0. Ronaldo again the man of the money, as the Portuguese star bagged himself another hat-trick.

Atletico almost got back into it in the reverse tie but a first half goal from Isco killed the tie as Real reached another European final.

Team News

Gareth Bale could start for Real in the final on Sunday. The Welshman has said he isn’t 100% fit but will be ready to play if he is called upon. Bale had been out with a calf injury, he had picked up against Barcelona. It is likely between Isco and Bale for that starting position.

Dani Carvajal is expected to be available for selection for Madrid as well.

For Juventus, Marko Mandzukic is likely to be fit as well as Sami Khedira who had been out. Winger Marko Pjaca and centre-back Danielle Rugani are expected to miss the game through injury.

 

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