Very soon, we will be finding out whether Juventus’ wait for a first European crown since 1996 will come to an end or Real Madrid’s recent love affair with the competition will continue.

The clash between Italy and Spain’s respective champions from the 2016/17 league campaign promises to be a thriller considering the fair bit of contrast in the playing styles of the two teams.

While Real Madrid prefer to take the game to the opposition with direct movement and occasionally devastating counter-attacks, Juventus is rather suited to a measured approach where defending and attacking is meticulously timed.

Both teams are renowned for their clinical nature in front of goal but if the battle of ruthlessness is between Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain, the likely winner cannot be debated.

In recent memory, Higuain has famously fluffed his lines in cup finals for the Argentina national team and therefore, expectations about his finishing will not be high this time.

Ronaldo, on the other hand, is a reliable difference-maker in big games whose chance conversion rate is something legends like Pele and Gerd Muller would be more than proud of.

The Portuguese superstar has faced his critics this campaign but it is worth noting that should he score in the upcoming final, he would have netted at least 50 goals in each of the past seven seasons. A truly staggering record.

But there is more to Real Madrid than just Cristiano Ronaldo and if anything, the midfield area is where this gigantic contest will be won or lost.

Zinedine Zidane is expected to keep faith in the silky three-man partnership of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Isco which did a decisive amount of damage to Diego Someone’s Atletico Madrid side in the semi-final.

And for Massimo Allegri, the idle move would be to deploy Sami Khedira and Miralem Pjanic in that holding midfield role to liberate the movement of Paulo Dybala.

Whoever possesses more presence in midfield will win this match and with Casemiro providing an extra layer of security for Madrid in front of the back four, Zidane’s men will be deemed the slight favourites.

However, Juventus boast a remarkable method of organization defensively along with the leadership of Gianluigi Buffon and that might just be impenetrable for Madrid especially if the scoreline remains 0-0 for a long period.

Unless an early goal is scored, this will be a very tight affair with few goalscoring opportunities.

And that is where the quality of finishing in the final third will come into the equation.

Matthew HopkinsPost
Very soon, we will be finding out whether Juventus' wait for a first European crown since 1996 will come to an end or Real Madrid's recent love affair with the competition will continue. The clash between Italy and Spain's respective champions from the 2016/17 league campaign promises to be a...