So the season is coming to a close and just the Champions League final remains.
Europe’s premier competition always provides a fitting end to the campaign and this year proves no different. Real Madrid and Juventus prove the two European juggernauts locking horns with the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff playing host.
While Los Blancos, rather unsurprisingly, are being tipped as the favourites, there are a great number of neutrals wanting to see Gianluigi Buffon take home the silverware. It’s certainly an intriguing clash.
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There are a great number of records and achievements potentially on the line too. Juventus are the only team in Europe’s top five leagues able to complete a treble and would have defeated both El Clasico sides along the way to victory.
Meanwhile, Real will be hoping to extend their recent stranglehold on the Champions League and make it three victories in just four years. They would become the first team to retain the title since AC Milan in 1989 and 1990 if they did so.
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Massimiliano Allegri is certainly no stranger to managing on the big occasion, but such a stage is undoubtedly more familiar to Zinedine Zidane. After all, just last season he handled it with style – masterminding victory over Atletico Madrid.
However, it seems Zidane is coming into this final even more prepared than last time. He is not ignorant to the fact that Juventus will be fired up for their occasion with their watertight defence and exciting forwards.
In fact, the French manager has ordered a number of coaches to plan how they will tactically overcome the Italians. Luis Lopis has been at the heart of this process and drew up a six-point plan after hours of video analysis.
Thankfully for us fans, Spanish newspaper ABC, as corroborated by 101GreatGoals, have been able to reveal the plan ahead of the final. It is both in-depth and thoroughly interesting.
It can be seen below:
1. Individualise the back three
Juventus’ so-called BBC is considered one of the best defensive lines in the world. Nevertheless, Real believe it can be thwarted by their strikers playing within five metres of one another. In the Old Lady’s back line being deemed as “slow”, Real are confident it can be unraveled by high-tempo football.
2. Single out Barzagli
Los Blancos see 36-year-old Andrea Barzagli as comfortably the poorest member of the BBC and a centre-back that can be exposed easily in 1 v 1s. Dani Alves may be used to counteract this, at which point Toni Kroos will called upon to expose any consequential gaps.
3. Triangles around Bonucci
By contrast, Leonard Bonucci is seen as the finest defender at Allegri’s disposal and that only via swift passing play can he truly be neutralised.
4. Combinations on Chiellini
Dani Carvajal, Karim Benzema and Luka Modric will form a deadly trio on the left flank of Juventus' defence to try and overcome Giorgio Chellini with intricate combination play.
5. Possession without taking risks
Los Blancos are confident that Juventus will deploy a defensive formation and try and feed upon any mistakes that arise. Zidane will apply an impetus on calm and patient build-up play, taking minimal risks until an opportunity inevitably presents itself.
6. Ramos, decoy and the front post
Juventus are very strong from set pieces and Real have struggled to find any great weakness. Nevertheless, they believe they can use the fact two men will be ordered to mark Sergio Ramos to their advantage. The skipper will either be used for flick-ons or decoy runs to cause chaos in the penalty area.
So there you have it, Real and Zidane’s master plan to thwarting Buffon’s big day. It’s certainly impressive that methods of beating each centre-back have been drawn up and something as little as Sergio Ramos’ positioning could be huge.
Of course, the six-point plan will be vain if the players don’t follow its word and adapt it appropriately to the situation. Besides, only Saturday will show whether Real can execute it perfectly and put Juventus to the sword.
No pressure, Mr. Lopis.
Who do you think will win in Cardiff - Real Madrid or Juventus? Have YOUR say in the comment box below
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