• Repeat of the 1998 final, when Madrid claimed their Septima
• The tournament's meanest defence meet its highest scorers
• The winner will represent Europe at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017
It is the Old Lady’s second final in three seasons and a chance to redress past misfortunes. Holders Real Madrid are back in familiar territory as well, playing their third final in four years. The Spanish side also have the chance to win back-to-back titles, an unprecedented feat in the Champions League, and add to their already formidable collection of 11 European crowns.
— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) May 30, 2017
Juventus – Real Madrid
National Stadium of Wales, Cardiff, 3 June 2017
Winning the Champions League would be the icing on the cake for the Bianconeri and Merengues’s seasons. Juventus have just won Serie A and the Coppa Italia, while Real Madrid also come into this match having just secured a league title, their first in five years. Yet while the Italians are so far unbeaten in the Champions League this campaign, Madrid lost for the first time in the competition this term in their last European match, the return leg of their semi-final tie with city rivals Atletico Madrid.
Juventus: A tight unit
Massimiliano Allegri’s team espouse the idea of defending and attacking as a unit, with players constantly covering each other. They also boast a near-watertight defence, having only conceded three times in twelve games.
Real Madrid: Attacking prowess
In stark contrast, Los Blancos have only kept a clean sheet once in this season’s Champions league campaign. However, they more than make up for their defensive frailties with their free-scoring frontline, having netted 32 times this tournament, more than any other side. Cristiano Ronaldo, who has struck ten times so far in this edition, has the chance on Saturday to leapfrog Lionel Messi’s 11-goal tally and finish top of the scoring charts.
Uncertainty over the ‘BBC’s
Both teams can boast having quality ‘BBC’ tridents. The Bianconeri’s is a defensive wall formed of Bonucci, Barzagli and Chiellini, while Los Merengues’s is a fearsome frontline consisting of Benzema, Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo. Yet there are doubts over whether we will see both of these ‘BBC’s playing from the start on Saturday.
This is because Allegri might opt for a more attack-minded formation, switching from three centre backs to two, with Colombian winger Juan Cuadrado picked ahead of defender Barzagli. Manager Zinedine Zidane likewise may choose to ditch Madrid’s tried-and-trusted 4-3-3 formation and select Isco ahead of Bale in order to bring more balance to midfield.
Did you know?
- A vintage match-up: Juventus and Madrid have faced each other 18 times in the competition, both sides recording eight victories apiece as well as two draws.
- Eighth ‘revenge match’: There have been eight repeat European Cup/Champions League finals, but only three teams have been able to make amends for their first defeat. Ajax achieved it against AC Milan, while the Rossoneri themselves helped their fans forget the disastrous capitulation against Liverpool in 2005 by winning the competition two years later. Juventus exacted revenge against Ajax – but will the Old Lady repeat this feat against Real Madrid?
- Regular finalists: The two teams boast 22 appearances at this stage of the competition – 14 for Real Madrid and 8 for Juventus.
- 100%-win record: Real Madrid has an enviable record in the Champions League era, appearing in five finals since 1992 and lifting the trophy on each occasion.
- Perpetual runners-up: Despite having played in eight European Cup/Champions League finals, Juventus were only able to win two of these, in 1985 and 1996. No team has lost more finals than the Italians.
Zidane has won the Champions League twice, both times with the Madrid club. His first triumph came in 2002, as a player, and his most recent as a coach last year. Before finding success in Europe’s elite competition, he had already lost two finals as a Juventus player – first against Borussia Dortmund in 1997, and again the following year against the club he would go on to star for, Real Madrid.
Saturday’s match will see three players take on their former sides. Gonzalo Higuain was on Los Blancos’s books between 2007 and 2013, while Sami Khedira was a fixture in Madrid’s midfield from 2010 to 2015. Moving in the opposite direction, Spanish international striker Alvaro Morata returned to his boyhood club last year after shining in Turin between 2014 and 2016.
Gianluigi Buffon may have amassed an array of medals throughout his 39 years, but the Champions League has so far eluded him. If he is to win it, he will have to keep a close eye on Cristiano Ronaldo, who has netted on each of the four occasions the two have faced each other representing Madrid and Juve.