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Battle of greats as Juventus seek to snatch Champions League trophy from Real Madrid

By News Express on 03/06/2017

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•UEFA Champions League defending champions Real Madrid.
•UEFA Champions League defending champions Real Madrid.

Today’s 2016-17 UEFA Champions League final pits the season’s top scorers, holders Real Madrid, against a Juventus side who have conceded just three goals en route to Cardiff.

Both clubs have plenty of recent final experience to draw from. Defending champions Madrid – bidding to become the first team to retain the trophy in the UEFA Champions League era – are in a third final in four years, having beaten city rivals Club Atlético de Madrid in both 2014 and 2016; Juventus, meanwhile, lost to FC Barcelona in the 2015 showpiece.

This match is a repeat of the 1998 final in Amsterdam, won 1-0 by Real Madrid against a Juventus side featuring current Merengues coach Zinédine Zidane. That gave the Spaniards the seventh of their record 11 European Cups.

Juve have won the trophy twice, in 1985 and 1996, but have lost in the final six times – more than any other club.

Juventus have won nine and drawn three of their 12 games in this season’s competition, and are seeking to become the first team to lift the trophy unbeaten since Manchester United FC in 2007-08. United were the sixth club to win the UEFA Champions League without losing a match.

Madrid and Juve will both be competing in their sixth UEFA Champions League final, equalling AC Milan’s record.

Madrid have won all five of their UEFA Champions League finals, a record number of wins, while Juve have lost the fixture more times than any other club – four. Indeed, their only victory was on penalties – against AFC Ajax in 1996.

What they say

Real Madrid have an “appointment with history” when they face Juventus in today in Cardiff, Scotland, says captain Sergio Ramos.

“We never dreamed of this opportunity but the stats are there,” said Spain international defender Ramos.

“It is a wonderful chance to take the cup home, then history speaks for itself. We are extremely excited about the chance to have two successive Champions League trophies.

“We have been very solid. Every time we have had the chance to fight for a trophy, we have done that. We are going to be extremely focused, very concentrated so we make as few mistakes as possible.”

Real Madrid won La Liga ahead of Barcelona this season and have scored 169 goals in all competitions this season.

In a repeat of the 1998 final, which the Spaniards won 1-0 in Amsterdam, Real come up against a side who are unbeaten in this season’s competition

Boss Zinedine Zidane, who played for opponents Juventus between 1996 and 2001, said: “We know all about pressure at Real Madrid.

“We are not favourites, nor are Juventus. It is 50-50. But we are in the final again, and everything is possible. I expect an open game on both sides.

“I have lived and been at Juventus, in Italy there is the famous Catenaccio, but Juve do not just have that.

“We are going to try to play our game, we know we are going to play against a great team. What everyone who likes football wants to see is to see a great final - and I think we will see that.”

Bale or Isco?

Zidane must decide whether to choose between Gareth Bale and Isco in what seems like his only selection issue before Saturday's Champions League final.

Bale has not played since 23 April but is fit, while in-form Isco has scored five goals in his last eight games.

“I am not going to tell you who is going to play on Saturday,” said Zidane.

Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri also has a fully-fit squad to choose from. His side defeated Monaco 4-1 on aggregate to reach their second final in three seasons.

Real knocked out city rivals Atletico with a 4-2 aggregate win and are looking to defend the title they won last year.

‘We need to win’

Treble-chasing Juventus clinched a record sixth consecutive Serie A title this season and beat Lazio in the Italian Cup.

Juve have been European Cup winners twice, in 1985 and the last in 1996, but have been defeated finalists on six occasions, most recently against Barcelona two years ago.

They have conceded just three goals in 12 games so far, while Real have scored in every single one of their 12 games – a total of 32 goals.

Manager Allegri said: “We have worked hard all year and the wins this season have been all about reaching this game. But on Saturday we need to win and we need to understand when will be the moments to attack and when to defend.

“We have to have the belief that we can bring the cup home and we have to be fiendish to strike when Real offer us an opening.”

•Based on BBC and SuperSport reports.

 

Source News Express

Posted 03/06/2017 10:59:43 AM

 

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