The D-Day has arrived. The eagle is about to land. In less than 12 hours, when the referee Felix Brych tosses his coin in front of 75,000 fanatics at the aptly named Millenium Stadium at Cardiff ,Wales.
We will reach the culmination of the 62 nd edition of Europe's biggest annual sporting extravaganza and the silver jubilee of the European Cup since its rebranding as UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE.
Juventus F.C. will be aiming to complete its first treble in history while Real Madrid C.F. will be determined to become the first team in history to defend the Champions League title.
78 clubs from 53 associations entered the competition a year ago on 28 th June, 2016. And today one will stand. Highly favoured heavyweights like Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Man City and PSG were waylaid as 11 time champions Real Madrid take on the Treble chasing Italian trailblazing powerhouses from Turin, Juventus. The pun lies in the fact that this will be Juventus's 3 rd European Cup as well.
While most oddmakers have Zidane's men slightly ahead; after all while no club has won more European Cups than Real; no club has lost more finals than Juve; one should take the Old Lady lightly on his/her own peril.
This after all is the club that literally way-laid the mighty Catalans in their epic Quarter Final showdown riding on the individual brilliance of the player bidding to become the most successful player in UEFA club competitions; 9 time UEFA competition winner Dani Alves; who mesmerised audiences worldwide with a superlative clock turning Benjamin Buttonesque performance versus his ex club like a jilted lover.
No stranger to beating, nay humiliating Real Madrid and its famed attacks over the years; and someone who always delivers the goods in big finals; Alves must be relishing his lips on this fantastic opportunity to show his struggling ex-employers again; why they “will miss him”; as he claimed during his white handshake last year.
Many have billed this match as a battle between Juventus's defence and Real's attack; but while they have conceded a eye poppingly mere 3 goals in their entire campaign (compared to Real's 17); they also have scored 21 goals (Real scored 32). So while no one will grudge the attention on names like Buffon, Ronaldo, Chiellini and Benzema; the likes of Higuain, Ramos, Mandzukic, Varane and Dybala are not to be scoffed at.
At the start of the season, every one expected the record breaking Pogba to leave a record breaking hole at the middle of Juve's midfield; young Paulo Dybala has fillen in those shoes ably and is attracting the attention of all big clubs with his incisive displays this season.
Juventus :-- Buffon, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini, Alex Sandro, Khedira, Pjanic, Alves, Pybala, Mandzukic, Higuan
Real Madrid:-- Navas, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo, Casemiro, Modric, Kroos, Isco, C Ronaldo, Benzema
Real Madrid 0:2 Juventus