Final: Real Madrid v Juventus: Sun 4:45am
They are two of the most successful clubs in the history of football and they meet again on the biggest stage. Real Madrid and Juventus are the polar opposites when it comes to both playing style and it makes for a very intriguing battle – one that The Wolf says will go right down to the wire. Here is how he says things will play out…
Stats That Matter
– Despite going undefeated in the group stage Real Madrid finished second in Group F behind Borussia Dortmund.
– They found another gear in the knockout stages with wins over Napoli, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid.
– Real Madrid have scored 32 goals in the UCL this season – the most of any team.
– Cristiano Ronaldo has 10 goals and 6 assists with Benzema next best with 5 goals.
– Real Madrid have scored 7 goals from headers – the most of any team.
– Real Madrid have scored multiple goals in 11 of their 12 matches in the competition.
– The Italian champions are the only team to go undefeated in this seasons’s competition.
– Juventus have conceded only 3 goals – the least of any team that progressed to the knockout stages. Real have conceded 17.
– 9 is the number of clean sheets that Juventus have maintained this season and they are yet to concede more than a single goal in any of their 12 matches.
– Higuain leads the team with 5 goals while Dani Alves has added 3 goals and 3 assists.
– Juve’s goals difference of +18 is the best in the competition.
– The sides have met 18 times with 8 wins a piece and 2 draws.
– Both teams have found the back of the net in the last 4 meetings between them.
– There have been at least 3 goals in 4 of their last 6 clashes.
– Real are 11-3 all time in UCL Finals. Of the 10 teams that have been in at least 5 finals they have the best win percentage (78%).
– Juventus are 2-6 in UCL Finals and have lost their last 4. They are 0-2 in finals against Spanish opposition.
– Both teams have scored in the last 6 UCL Finals and 10 of the last 12.
– 3 of the last 5 finals have gone into extra time.
Where It Will Be Won
Attack meets defence and if this were to be played over two legs The Wolf says the outcome would be very different. Juventus have again showed just how good they are at getting a result away from home. They have 5 wins and a draw away from home in this season’s competition with 12 goals scored and just 1 conceded. Barcelona and Monaco combined for 48 goals in this competition yet both failed to score at home to Juventus. The discipline of Juve’s back line cannot be underestimated and the experience that they have is second to none. Buffon is their inspirational leader between the posts while Chiellini, Barzagli and Bonucci form the most disciplined trio in world football. There is no secret as to how Juve will play. They will set up compact at the back and look to play into Dybala’s feet to spring out on the counter. How many numbers they can get forward along side Higuain remains to be seen. Dani Alves has been magic in the more advanced role he has been given but he will have a small problem to deal with…
There were question marks as to whether or not he would be able to return to his best following the long term injury sustained in the Euro 2016 Final but he has responded in true Ronaldo style. He has been the story of the knockout phase with back to back hat-tricks against Bayern Munich and Atletico. 8 of his 10 goals have come when it counts most and he will require the full attention of Europe’s best defence. A single man cannot defend Ronaldo and is the reason why he is so dangerous. Dani Alves will have to work hard defensively to help contain the Portuguese star which will nullify a big part of Juve’s attack. Alves was the star in the semi against Monaco and was constantly able to get in behind the defence. Over the two legs Pjanic, Khedira and Marchisio were able to consistently pick him out with cross field balls but The Wolf says we will see very little of that in the final.
Ronaldo is able to have free reign in attack thanks to Casemiro, Kroos and Modric. The trio combine to create what The Wolf describes as the smartest midfield in world football. Their positioning off the ball is something to behold – with Casemiro’s ability to win the ball and slow down teams on the counter a real feature. They are able to cover the wide men in Ronaldo and Isco by sliding across and tucking in behind them. This also allows their wing backs (Marcelo and Carvajal) to get forward and supply crosses for Ronaldo and Benzema. It is no surprise that Madrid have scored 7 goals from headers and The Wolf expects Juve to have their work cut out for them at the back.
Defence has rarely been a feature in recent finals with both teams finding the back of the net in 10 of the last 12. It makes the task of stopping Real Madrid all the more difficult for the Italian giants and The Wolf cannot see them starving Real of possession. The side from Madrid have a significant edge in midfield with Kroos, Casemiro and Modric. Khedira, Pjanic and an inexperienced Dybala will not stand up to the ultimate test and it will put their defence under extreme pressure. With Gareth Bale also set to make his return The Wolf says Real Madrid will have too much fire power. It’s been a long time since Juventus found themselves winning on the biggest stage (last win was in 1996) and with Real Madrid claiming 2 of the last 3 titles, The Wolf has them becoming the first team to win consecutive Champions League titles since AC Milan in 89-90. Real Madrid 2-1!