Champions League: Real Madrid, Juventus in final battle

Spanish football giant Real Madrid will hope to become the first team in history to win the Champions League in successive seasons while Juventus will expect its watertight defence to stand tall against its vaunted rival.

Cristiano Ronaldo, unsurprisingly, will have the spotlight on him as his 10 goals have led Real Madrid to one win away from creating history.   -  REUTERS

Spanish football giant Real Madrid will hope to become the first team in history to win the Champions League in successive seasons while Juventus will expect its watertight defence to stand tall against its vaunted rival when the two sides meet in the final here at the Millennium Stadium here on Saturday.

Real v Juve: Talking tactics

The feted sides who have won their respective domestic leagues have been in rampaging form going into the final, with Saturday’s battle billed as a match up between Real's attack and Juve's defence.

As far as Real's record is concerned, Arrigo Sacchi's AC Milan side was the last to be crowned European champion for a second year running in 1990, but since the competition morphed into the Champions League that feat has proved beyond even the most expensively-assembled teams.

Super coaches battle

It will also be homecoming for Real's Welsh winger Gareth Bale who, if deemed fit to play, will strut his stuff in front of his own people.

Spotlight

Centre stage, as he so often is, will be Cristiano Ronaldo, whose lust for goals has taken Real to within touching distance of a 12th European title after it took its 11th a year ago by beating Atletico Madrid.

Real's road to final

Crowned La Liga champion for the first time since 2012 last week, Real is the favourite after banging in 32 goals in 12 games in the competition this season.

Ronaldo has scored 10 of them, and two more in the final would see him move above Barcelona's Lionel Messi to top this season's Champions League scoring chart.

Juve's road to final

"Too much humility isn't good. We have to prove our character and who is the best," Ronaldo was quoted as saying as he eyed a third Champions League crown with Real. He has previously won the Champions League with Manchester United in 2008.

"The final is won by scoring goals. I have the feeling that we are going to play a great game and we are going to win," Ronaldo said.

Miserly Old Lady

Coming to Juve, the Serie A title winner has been unbeaten in Europe this season and is going into its second final in three years having conceded only three goals.

While the Italian outfit has the likes of Paulo Dybala, Mario Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain in attack, it is its backline that has caused a lot of trouble to top teams, most recently FC Barcelona to which it lost in the 2015 Champions League final.

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique described its defence as a "mountain" after its quarterfinal loss.

This will perhaps be Juve legendary goalkeeper and skipper Gianluigi Buffon's last shot at a Champions League medal to add to his glittering array of silverware after twice suffering heartache in the final.

At 39, Buffon, a 2006 World Cup winner with Italy for whom he still is the first-choice keeper, will want to end his club's 21-year wait for the elusive title.

‘Tomorrow’s match is very important to me’

Real coach Zinedine Zidane, once a Champions League runner-up with Juve, contriving to break the hearts of those who once idolised him, will have to take a call whether Bale or Isco would play. However, the latter looks to be ahead as Bale is yet to fully recover from the ankle ligament injury he incurred in November.

Overall, a mouthwatering contest awaits football fans as two in-form teams who have been consistent throughout the season lock horns for the most wanted crown in European club football.

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