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Champions League Final PREVIEW – Barcelona v Juventus

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The two teams have played each other only two times in history, both being the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League 2002/03, with Juventus coming out victorious with a 2-1 win in the second leg while the first leg ending 1-1. Paolo Montero and Javier Saviola scored in the 1-1 draw in the first leg, while Xavi scored the single goal for Barcelona in the second leg, and Pavel Nedved and Marcelo Zalayeta scored for Juventus.

This time around though, it is Barcelona who have the more appealing attack and it is the Spanish side are the ones who have scored the goals, with Barcelona’s attacking trio scoring 119 goals this year; Juventus’ trio maxed out at less than half that number with 52 goals. Barcelona’s MSN team has produced 51 assists on the year; Juventus’ trio has only produced 14.

As this is the case, I will be concentrating my preview on the attacking abilities of both sides, as this, in my opinion, will be the main source of chances during the game.

Barcelona

The attacking trio, made-up of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, is the most powerful triple-threat striking force on the planet. The numbers speak for themselves. The three have combined a monstrous 119 goals this season, the most by any attack-force in all history of the sport. The previous record holders were Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema, who managed 118 goals in the 2011-12 season.

Messi is the leader of the Barca pack with 58 goals and 27 assists this season. He has transformed himself into a player who is not only capable of finishing and creating chances, but also starting the attack, for others to get involved in. He has done so by simply transforming himself into a right-winger, in order to allow Luis Suarez to move straight into the side, as the main centre forward. The results have been mesmerising.

Suarez has been unstoppable as well, in his first season with the Spanish side, with 24 goals and 17 assists in 36 games.

Finally, Neymar, the third contributor of the strike force, has been having the best year of his life, with a stunning 39 goals and 7 assists in 44 games for Barcelona.

Juventus

Admittedly, the Italian side does not have as blistering an attack as Barcelona does. The Serie A Champions scored just 72 goals in all Italian competitions, and none of their forwards scored more than 30 goals on the year.

That said, the team still possesses some lethal options in attack, with Carlos Tevez undeniably being the key man. The Argentinian scored 20 goals in Serie A, but managed 29 in all competitions as well as contributing 8 assists.

After him, the team has two major options to use in attack. Fernando Llorente is a huge presence, who is capable of doing some damage in the air. However, he scored only 9 goals and contributed only 1 assist in 39 games this year. Although these are not imposing numbers, he is capable of opening up space for Tevez with his larger, physical attributes.

He will likely see the bench however, as Alvaro Morata is sure to get the nod. The 22-year-old has scored 14 goals and assisted 5 in 40 games for Juventus. Although he isn’t a hulking presence, he still holds the ball up better than Llorente and is more capable of making key passes to Carlos Tevez. His finesse will be vital against a Barcelona team that will likely retain possession throughout the match.

Both the sides are free of any injury and will be fielding their strongest teams for the Final of the Champions League. With this being the case, I see the two sides setting out like this:

Juventus:

Formation: 4-3-1-2

Gianluigi Buffon

Stephan Lichtsteiner   Giorgio Chiellini   Andrea Barzagli   Patrice Evra

Paul Pogba   Andrea Pirlo   Claudio Marchisio

Arturo Vidal

Alvaro Morata   Carlos Tevez

FC Barcelona:

Formation: 4-3-3

Marc Andre ter-Stegen

Dani Alves   Gerard Pique   Javier Mascherano   Jordi Alba

Ivan Rakitic   Sergio Busquets   Andreas Iniesta

Lionel Messi   Luis Suarez   Neymar


Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Matt Smith

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