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Friday, 2 June 2017

Champions League Final Pick 2017- Juventus vs Real Madrid (June 3rd)

Champions League Final 2017- Juventus vs Real Madrid
You can't have hoped for a much better Champions League Final with two famous European names trying to etch their name into the history books. The fans in Cardiff are going to have a spectacle to enjoy and I am a very much looking forward to this one.

That is partly down to selfish reasons as myself, and many other Manchester United fans, will be interested to see which team is going to be the opponent for the first game of the 2017/18 season when the European Super Cup is contested in Skopje, Macedonia in August.

The pain of losing the Champions League Final in 2015 has inspired many of the Juventus squad who were involved two years ago. This competition has clearly been a big target for Juventus throughout the 2016/17 season and they have a chance of completing the 'Treble' having already secured Serie A and the Coppa Italia over the last month.

The sale of Paul Pogba meant Juventus were able to reinvest in the squad and the signings made have pushed the 'Old Lady' of Italian Football forward. The side are unbeaten in all 12 Champions League games played this season and they have won 9 of those games, while Juventus have beaten Porto, Barcelona and Monaco in the Knock Out Stages of the competition.

Juventus have lost 1 of their last 13 games in all competitions, but that hasn't prevented them securing another League title as well as the Italian Cup in that time. They have played well on their travels this season with Juventus unbeaten in 7 away Champions League ties and they have won 5 of 6 away from Turin in that competition this season. The side have won 3 of their last 6 away games overall and have lost 1 game in that time.

It looks like Juventus will have their squad all ready to go for this one.

Expected Juventus Line Up: Buffon, Barzagli, Chiellini, Bonucci, Dani Alves, Alex Sandro, Khedira, Pjanic, Mandzukic, Dybala and Higuain.

Real Madrid
A chance to win a third Champions League title in three seasons and the first club to win back to back European Cups since 1990 will cement this current Real Madrid squad of players in the history books. A club that has won eleven European Cups has many quality squads through the history, but this one will be ranked right up amongst the very best if they can win another Champions League title.

The Spanish Primera Division has already been secured, but Real Madrid pride themselves on how well they do in the Champions League and losing is simply not an option for them on Saturday. They had been unbeaten in 15 Champions League ties before losing 2-1 at Atletico Madrid in the Semi Final Second Leg, and Real Madrid have won 7 of their 12 Champions League games this season.

Real Madrid have won 7 of their last 8 games in all competitions with the sole exception being the loss in the Second Leg of their Champions League Semi Final after holding a 3-0 lead from the First Leg. They won those games under pressure to take the Spanish title too, while Real Madrid have won 11 of their last 12 games away from the Santiago Bernebeu.

The two week break between the final League game and the Champions League Final has given Real Madrid a chance to restore their squad to full fitness.

Expected Real Madrid Line Up: Navas, Carvajal, Marcelo, Varane, Ramos, Kroos, Modric, Casemiro, Isco, Ronaldo and Benzema.

Head to Head
This is the nineteenth meeting between two of Europe's biggest clubs.

2015 might not be looked back fondly by Juventus having lost in the Final of the Champions League, but they did beat Real Madrid 3-2 on aggregate in the Semi Final.

Juventus have now lost 1 of their last 7 games against Real Madrid going back to March 2005 and they have won 4 of those games.

Overall both teams have won 8 and lost 8 against each other from their previous 18 matches in European competition.

They have only met once in a Final before and that was in the Champions League Final of 1998 which was won 1-0 by Real Madrid in Amsterdam when they were the underdog.

When you look back at the way the Champions League 2016/17 campaign went, I think it would be hard to argue that we haven't been given the best Final possible. Some Bayern Munich fans may disagree with that feeling, but Juventus versus Real Madrid is a fitting conclusion to the season with all eyes turned to Cardiff.

This is a chance for Real Madrid to really cement their place in the record books with three titles in four years a chance to underline their dominance. They haven't always had things going their own way in that time having needed an injury time goal to secure a spot in extra time in 2014 and then needing a penalty shoot out to win the Champions League in 2016.

On the other hand, Juventus are looking for redemption after falling in the Final in 2015 to Barcelona, but they look a team that is playing with more confidence at this moment. Winning the title in Italy has become the norm for this set of players, but winning the Champions League will be a huge achievement for Juventus and one they are desperate to complete.

It makes this a fascinating Final with the feeling being how Real Madrid's attack is going to cope with Juventus' defensive skills. Juventus did have 6 consecutive clean sheets in the Champions League, which included 5 in a row in the Knock Out Stage, before Monaco scored consolation in the Semi Final Second Leg, but I think that hides some of their attacking potential.

Just ask Barcelona if Juventus are not clinical in the final third and this is a team who have scored at least twice in 6 of their last 8 Champions League games. They will certainly feel the Real Madrid defensive weakness can be exploited with speedy counter attacking through Paulo Dybala and the finishing of Gonzalo Higuain, a player who is facing his former club.

There will be opportunities for Juventus as we have seen Real Madrid struggle to contain teams when they do have a go at them. They will look to the way Atletico Madrid have had success against Real Madrid in recent years with a similar brand of football as Juventus, although Juventus may even feel their defence is actually a lot stronger than Atletico Madrid's.

However, when you have the attacking talent that Real Madrid clearly have, you have to think there will be chances for them too. Anyone who did see the two Juventus versus Barcelona ties in the Quarter Final should have noted the number of chances that Barcelona actually created, but poor finishing let them down on both days.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been in stunning form in the Knock Out Stage of the Champions League and I am not sure he will be as loose in front of goal as the Barcelona forwards were. That should mean Real Madrid pose a real threat too and I think the layers are underestimating the chance of seeing at least three goals in this Final.

I think that will happen, but I am also very much leaning towards Juventus just having a little bit more overall. While I do think Real Madrid will have chances, I think Juventus' attacking potential is being hugely under-rated and they can beat Real Madrid in a manner that Atletico Madrid have provided the blueprint for over the last few seasons.

This Real Madrid defence can be stretched and Juventus have shown they can be very good going forward throughout the Champions League campaign. I think they can defend well enough to earn those counter attacking opportunities and it has felt like Juventus have been so focused on this Champions League tilt that they are going to be very ready to go.

You can't rule out Real Madrid finding a way as they have in 2014 and 2016 when looking down and out, but Juventus are a huge price to win this one in normal time. I think they find a way to do that and I will back the Old Lady to join Manchester United on three European Cup triumphs with a win in normal time of this Final.

I also think you can't ignore the price for at least three goals to be shared out as both teams should have the chances in front of goal in this one. I think it will end up being 2-1 to someone in what looks like will be good conditions for football on Saturday without the wetness of rain and with temperatures reasonable.

The layers just look to have underestimated the Juventus attack with that being the reason they have priced up goals so big, but I think Juventus are better going forward than people think with the defence getting all the plaudits.

I also think Real Madrid will create chances like Barcelona did and I expect a more clinical reaction to those than their great rivals had.

MY PICKS: Juventus to Win @ 3.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Juventus-Real Madrid Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.45 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)

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