We’ve had a go at compiling an ultimate XI from Juventus and Barcelona’s players head of tomorrow’s Champions League Final, and now we take a look at the head-to-head battles that we think will be most significant on Saturday evening in Berlin.
Juventus may well be underdogs but the game will be won and lost in these key areas, so if they are able to come out on top here then anything could happen.
Carlos Tevez vs Javier Mascherano
The Argentina and former West Ham United team-mates are good friends but will push that all to the side on Saturday in pursuit of glory. Both have won the Champions League once previously – Tevez with Manchester United, Mascherano with Barca – and they stand in the way of each other getting a second European title. Mascherano will be operating in central defence for his Catalan club alongside Gerard Pique, and they will be in a straight tussle with Juve strike pair Tevez and Alvaro Morata. Such is the familiarity with one another that the two Argentines will surely be the battle to watch in Berlin. Whoever emerges victorious will be sure to rub it in when they meet up for Copa America, which begins next weekend.
Arturo Vidal vs Sergio Busquets
Chilean playmaker Vidal plays behind the Juventus front pairing, and he will be looking to keep Barca’s holding midfielder Sergio Busquets busy tomorrow. He will have to come deep for the ball, if Barcelona’s attacking onslaught is going to be as dominant as expected, and Busquets will have to see that Vidal isn’t afforded the space to then open up and create for those ahead of him.
Luis Suarez vs Angelo Ogbonna
The moment the final whistle was blown in Juventus’ draw with Real Madrid in the Semi Final second leg, all talk was of the meeting between Luis Suarez and his World Cup bite victim Giorgio Chiellini. Chiellini’s injury this week, though, has ruled him out of the Final. 34 year-old Andrea Barzagli, who came off the bench in the Bernabeu Semi Final, is also a doubt with a thigh problem, so it looks as if Angelo Ogbonna is the most likely to deputise at the back alongside Leonardo Bonucci. Ogbonna should be the more suitable option, as the 27 year-old is left footed and therefore suited to Chiellini’s left-sided centre back position, plus he is far more mobile than the veteran Barzagli (if not as experienced) which should serve him well against the relentless energy of Suarez. If the Uruguay forward is too much for Ogbonna, we’re sure that Patrice Evra will be happy to offer a helping hand from that left hand side!