Last night’s saw the only feasible upset left in this season’s thrilling UEFA Champions League campaign as Juventus proved the majority of us wrong by seeing off the current holders of the competition, Real Madrid. Heading into last night’s second-leg tie with the Spanish giants with a one goal lead, Juventus managed to secure their progression to the final thanks to a 1-1 draw and an equalising goal from former Real Academy player Alvaro Morata.
With Barcelona already awaiting the Serie A champions in the final, Ben Fawcett takes a look at the key battles that can win or lose this year’s Champions League.
A World-Class Goalkeeper
There’s much to be said about the attacking prowess of both sides heading into this year’s Champions League Final in Berlin, but one of the key areas that will prove vital to this tie will be between the sticks. This year’s Champions League Final will take place in Berlin, in the same stadium where Italy won the World Cup in 2006, and the connection will evoke fond memories for Juventus goalkeeper Buffon. One of the best goalkeepers still in the game and most certainly one of the best ever, Buffon has 147 appearances as goalkeeper representing his country, and is drenched in success and accolades from his 20-year professional career. The man who will marshal the Juventus goal come June 6th is more than capable of halting the ferocity of the Barcelona attack, arguably the key battle for Juventus if they are to claim what would be Buffon’s first Champions League trophy.
That deadly trio
Barcelona are currently considered to be the best football playing side in the world, thanks in a big way to the forward talents of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar . The Catalan club’s brilliant front-line have scored 113 goals between them this season and their link-up play has left Europe in a state of awe en route to the Champions League Final, as well as the La Liga and Copa del Rey crowns.
Tuesday night in Munich brought yet another brace for the youngest of the trio, Neymar, another pair of assists for the now comfortable Luis Suarez and the often understated but always expected mercurial brilliance of Lionel Messi. With over 100 goals between the trio and a plethora of assists, Barcelona boast the most formidable front-line in world football. Juventus will have to do the, at times inconceivable come June 6 as they look to contain and silence the trio dubbed ‘MSN’ from doing what they do best, scoring.
Paul Pogba is back
Only 22-years old and already heralded as one of the best players in the world, Paul Pogba’s return from injury couldn’t be better timed for Juventus. Sidelined since Juventus’ last-16 tie with Borussia Dortmund over a month ago, the tall, strong and incredibly talented midfielder is finally fully fit and ready to help Juventus claim a historic Champions League Final win. With valuations ranging from £50mil to £100mil for the former Manchester United man, Pogba is one of the most highly coveted players in world football. His exceptional passing range and vision, coupled with his formidable size, strength and bravery make him the ultimate midfield player. As Juve prepare to face one of the most experienced, decorated and rated midfields in the history of the game in Andres Iniesta and Xavi, Pogba will be crucial if the Serie A side are to overcome the odds in Berlin. One of the chief stars in his side’s progression to the final last night, Pogba is said to be on the verge of greatness and a game such as the Champions League Final is the ideal stage to show and prove it.