This weekend sees the Champions League final take place in Cardiff, and it’s likely to be an historic occasion. For the first time in quite a while, two domestic champions at the very top of their game come head to head in the showpiece game to crown the best side in Europe. There’s so little between Juventus and Real Madrid, with both sides looking to add to already excellent seasons with a great result on Saturday night.
Can the Spanish domination of the European Cup continue? Or will we see the first winner from outside La Liga since 2013? Juve are the only non-Spanish side to appear in the last three finals, and they’re out to make up for a loss to Barcelona in Berlin back in 2015. They are a much more competent side now though and come into this showpiece as equals.
The poor record Juventus possess in Champions League finals has been regularly mentioned, winning just one since the competition changed format. However, the only time they lifted the trophy they did so against the reigning champions Ajax, who were out to become the first side to retain the modern European Cup. That’s a feat that has still not been achieved, but the bookies seem to think Real Madrid will complete the task in Wales, following their penalty shoot-out win over Atletico Madrid in Milan last May. However, the challenge of winning it back to back even scuppered the mighty Barcelona of Pep Guardiola, can Zinedine Zidane win and it and achieve some Real Madrid history?
The French legend is less than 18 months into the Madrid job, but he’s already won the league and Champions League. However, even a club as successful as Real haven’t won their two grand prizes in the same season in modern times. In fact, Los Blancos are out to win the league and European Cup for the first time since 1958 this weekend. Meanwhile, Juventus are chasing the first treble in their history, which has only been accomplished once in Italian football.
There’s so much on the line this weekend that this makes for a brilliant end of season occasion. One of these two giants will come up short despite thrilling us with their displays so far. Will Juve re-establish themselves among the elite of European football? Bayern Munich, Barca and Real have been head and shoulders above everyone else for a while now, but we think this is the season when everything changes. You can see our predictions and betting tips for the Champions League final below.
Juventus to lift the trophy (evens with Coral)
While Real Madrid come into this game as 4/5 favourites with Sky Bet to lift the trophy, we aren’t sure they should be so short. Juventus have been brilliant throughout this competition, putting in excellent team displays to get through the group, then they’ve cruised through every knockout round test. Real Madrid don’t have the versatility of Juve, the Spanish champions have only really got one way of playing. They are brilliant to watch in full flow, but another Italian side almost caught them out earlier this season.
Napoli, who finished third in Serie A, dominated large chunks of their two legged clash with Real in the last 16. There were plenty of gaps for the Partenopei to exploit, while Real weren’t really able to get control of the game. Napoli’s defensive problems eventually sent them out, but that isn’t something Real can exploit against Juventus.
This Juve outfit oozes class and experience at the back, while they’ve had an incredible turnaround since moving to a new attacking formation. Their 4-2-3-1 set up commits more men forward, but their players have taken extra defensive responsibility to make up for that. They’re now a brilliant unit which attacks together, one which can transition into a 3-5-2 with ease to trip up their opponents. They have so many options to test this Madrid side who themselves are limited in options by their star names. Having kept a clean sheet in all but one of their Champions League matches since December, we’re backing Juve to take the trophy at evens with Coral.
Gonzalo Higuain to score (6/4 with BetVictor)
While all of Juve’s players will be out to crown themselves as European champions, this tie is extra special for two. Dani Alves is one, who moved to Turin after feeling unwanted at Barca. Proving himself against the great rivals of the former club that he still loves will be a huge motivation. However, he can’t match the drive of Gonzalo Higuain here. The Argentine forward isn’t one you’d usually see as driven, but after being unceremoniously sold by Real in favour of Karim Benzema, it’s fair to say he has a score to settle.
Higuain’s time in Madrid is often underrated, but he’s been brilliant in Italy. His double against Monaco in the Champions League semi-final first leg marked his first big European impact for Juve, which were the kind of moments that the Old Lady were expecting when they forked out a huge sum last summer. They spent £75million on a 29-year-old expecting him to drive a push for this trophy, and it would be an incredible bookmark in his career if he could score against Real. We are backing the forward to add to his 32 goals this season and he’s 6/4 with BetVictor to score any time.
Juventus to win 2-1 (10/1 with BetVictor)
We fully expect Juventus to pick up a win on Saturday, and we’re backing them to do it in normal time. Real Madrid have seen both teams score in all but one of their European games this term, and we fancy that run to continue this weekend. They’ve scored in every tie, and they should do enough to put one past this Juve defence. However, the Italians have more than enough ability to see off Real, especially with the likes of Higuain and Dybala going forward.
We like the look of a 2-1 win for the Italian champions on Saturday, especially since the last four Champions League finals have seen both teams score. A 2-1 win for Juve is priced at 10/1 with BetVictor, and it’s our correct score prediction for the clash in Cardiff.