The culmination of the 2014/15 season is finally upon us, and the entire football world will be turning their attention to Berlin tonight as Europe’s elite duo face each other in what should be a fantastic evening of football.
Barcelona and Juventus have both proved themselves as the elite teams this season, as both are on the verge of completing a historic treble tonight. Of course there can only be one team to complete this feat, and although both teams have enjoyed tremendous seasons, their success will all depend on the outcome of tonight’s fixture.
Both teams have been crowned champions of their respective domestic leagues and have lifted their domestic cups, but there is no trophy more prestigious than the Champions League trophy.
Should Barca complete the treble, it would see Luis Enrique finally be able to step out the mighty shadow of Pep Guardiola and begin his own legacy at the Catalan club. His side are the favourites and have been the standout performers in the competition so far, but after a trophyless campaign last time out the Barca fans are hungry for silverware.
For Juventus, it is a fantastic opportunity for them to once again establish themselves as a dominant European force. They have failed to lift the CL trophy in their last 3 trips to the final, with their last victory coming just under 20 years ago when they defeated Ajax on penalties. They have been incredibly solid and compact this season, but they also have proven their abilities going forwards with the likes of Tevez, Morata, Pogba and Pirlo.
It has been a fascinating journey to Berlin this evening, with both teams proving their credentials throughout the competition.
Barcelona showed their intent from the getgo, claiming an impressive 5 victories out of their 6 group games with PSG the only team to take points from Luis Enrique’s men. Barca then thoroughly outclassed Man City in the last 16, cruising into the quarter finals with a 3-1 aggregate victory which would have been much higher if it were not for a stellar performance from Joe Hart.
Next up was fellow Group F team PSG, enabling Barca to get their revenge which they did in convincing fashion with a 5-1 aggregate victory. The semis was a tantalising fixture which saw former Barca boss Pep Guardiola return to Nou Camp with his convincing Bayern Munich side. Messi and co were once again a different class, effectively ending the tie in the 1st leg with a 3-0 victory. Munich restored pride with a 3-2 victory in the 2nd leg, but Barcelona rightfully booked their place in the final.
It has not been quite as straightforward for Massimiliano Allegri’s side, who finished 2nd in their group with Athletico claiming the top spot. They comfortably saw off Borussia Dortmund with a 5-1 victory in the last 16, but there was just 1 goal in their quarter final tie with Monaco which Vidal converted from the penalty spot to see them scrape through. They then had the formidable task of taking down holders Real Madrid in the semis, but Madrid had been far from convincing in the competition. Juve were galvanised by this, and took a well deserved 2-1 victory in the 1st leg. A Ronaldo penalty caused doubt, but Morata then scored the decisive goal in the 57th minute against his former employers to book a place in the finals.
Barcelona are the firm favourites going into the match, and they have shown their ability to win in different ways in all competitions this season. Most of the focus has been on the stunning 3 pronged attack of Messi, Neymar and Suarez, who have netted a staggering 120 goals this season. They have also impressed defensively, and their ability to dominate possession has once again proved impossible to stop so far. Messi has been brilliant throughout, producing dozens of highlights on their impressive journey to Berlin.
If any team is capable of neutralising Barcelona’s incredible attacking talent, it is Juventus. They have stifled their opposition with their compact and disciplined defence all season long, and they will look to do the same tonight. You can expect them to soak up pressure before looking to break on the counter through the likes of Morata, Pogba and Tevez.
With just 1 game deciding the outcome, unlike the earlier stages of the competition, anything could happen and Juventus will feel confident that they can cause an upset in Berlin tonight.
The stage is set for what will be a historic evening regardless of who comes out on top. One team will complete a treble and prove themselves as the dominant team domestically and in Europe, and this will add plenty of drama to this fascinating match up between these two legendary teams. The curtain is about to close on the 2014/15 campaign, and after an exhilarating and fascinating competition we will finally see who is Europe’s elite team.
Andres Insiesta is expected to be fit following a tweaked leg muscle he suffered in the Copa del Rey Final. This is the only concern for Enrique ahead of tonight’s game.
Massimiliano Allegri meanwhile will have to cope without defender Giorgio Chiellini due to a torn calf muscle. His potential replacement, Andrea Barzagli, but he is also an injury concern as he is still recovering from a calf strain.