Preview and Predicted Line-Ups: Champions League Final

Barcelona and Juventus meet in the German Olimpiastadion, Berlin

This Saturday will witness the biggest game in European football as Barcelona and Juventus meet in German Olimpiastadion, Berlin for the UEFA Champions League final.

So let’s take a look at how the two teams could line-up as both sides target a treble winning season. Catalonian giants Barcelona have already secured the La Liga title as well as the Copa Del Rey, whereas Juventus have wrapped up their fourth consecutive Serie A title alongside the Coppa Italia.

Barcelona team: Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GK), Dani Alves, Javier Mascherano, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Xavi (c), Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar

Luis Enrique’s Barcelona side will look to set up in their usual 4-3-3 formation and, in typical Barcelona style, will look to keep possession of the ball and try to break down Juventus’ stubborn defence. Barcelona are looking to secure their fifth Champions League/European Cup trophy.

I believe Xavi Hernandez will start ahead of Ivan Rakitic and captain the side in the midfield three as it will be his last game in Barca colours, ending his 24-year stay at the club. The 35-year old will move on to Qatari team Al-Sadd on a three-year contract after the Champions League final.

The main threat is obviously the front three which consists of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar. The three have been instrumental in Luis Enrique’s successful first season at the club and Juventus might find it tough to stop them, as would any team.

Suarez has had his fitness doubts ahead of the final, but I’m sure he’ll be fit and ready once the 6th June comes. Suarez will also meet Patrice Evra for the first time since their controversial and personal debacle from their Premier League days at Liverpool and Manchester United respectively.

Juventus team: Gianluigi Buffon (GK) (c), Stephan Lichtsteiner, Leonardo Bonnuci, Giorgio Chiellini, Patrice Evra, Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio, Arturo Vidal, Paul Pogba, Carlos Tevez, Alvaro Morata

I expect Massimiliano Allegri’s side to line-up in their usual 4-4-2 diamond formation with Pirlo holding and Pogba playing just behind the two strikers. Juventus are aiming for their third Champions League/European Cup trophy.

I believe Juventus will look to be stubborn and resolute in defence as the Italian’s have always been renowned for. The two experienced centre-halves, Bonnuci and Chiellini, will be key to this as they marshal and organise their defence to try and stop the quality of Barcelona’s front three.

Veteran goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon could also have a big part to play, as I believe he will be forced to pull of several saves and will have to show his very best. Pirlo could also be key as he is the pass master. He will be expected to help Juventus keep the ball when they have it, because when Barcelona aren’t in possession they like to press and smother the opposition to win the ball back.

Juve may look to play on the counter attack to try and catch Barcelona out when they push their full-backs forward. In form Carlos Tevez and Alvaro Morata will look to punish Barcelona if they are light in defence; the two strikers will be supported by the pacey and energetic duo of Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal.

Morata was key in getting Juventus to the final, as he scored a goal both home and away in the semi-final against his former club and Barca’s El Clasico rivals Real Madrid.

By Kieran Makin
Twitter: @kieranmaksports

 

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