How Juventus can beat Barcelona in the Champions League final

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With the battering that Serie A has received over the past few years for a perceived lack of quality it was heartening to see the Old Lady remind everyone that Italian football is very much still alive and thriving.

Juventus knocked Real Madrid out of the the Champions League after winning 3-2 on aggregate, with former Madridista Álvaro Morata scoring in both legs as Fernando Morientes did for Monaco in 2004.

Between Max Allegri's side and Juventus' third European Cup stand Barcelona, fresh from beating former manager Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich team in the other semi-final.

Guardiola famously said: "I loathe all that passing for the sake of it, all that tiki-taka," and, under Luis Enrique, Barça have continued to develop a fearsome ability to break teams apart with a flash of Lionel Messi's left-boot, ably assisted by Neymar and Luis Suarez in arguably football's greatest ever attack.

So how exactly should Juventus go about trying to dismantle Barcelona while keeping MSN quiet? 

Smother the midfield 

In the first-leg of the semi-final against Madrid Juventus lined up with a narrow midfield, Andrea Pirlo sitting at the base of a diamond with a flexible trio of Claudio Marchisio, Stefano Sturaro and Arturo Vidal playing in front of him. 

The only change for the second-leg saw Paul Pogba come back into the side after injury lay-off to replace Sturaro, who arguably changed the course of the match when he somehow managed to divert James Rodriguez's header onto the crossbar with Gianluigi Buffon stranded. 

Vidal and Marchisio put in herculean performances to smother the space and not allow Isco or Toni Kroos to dictate play, while Pirlo wasn't at his best but still provided calmness and excellent positional awareness, not to mention covering more ground than any other Juventus player in the first leg.

Barcelona will most likely line up with a midfield of Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic, injury permitting, and there were signs in the second-leg against Munich that the trio can be targeted.

Munich pressed Busquets and closed off his passing options, not allowing him to find the angles he likes to work with, leaving the Spanish international looking increasingly isolated as the game went on. 

Likewise, although he has brought balance to Barça's midfield this season, when denied time and space Rakitic often misplaced passes or was forced into playing backward passes, stunting Barcelona's forward progression. 

I Bianconeri's midfield contains a tremendous amount of energy and Vidal and co will have to pick up where they left off in the Bernabeu if they are to have any chance of beating Barcelona. 

Target Mascherano 

Gerard Pique's return to form has considerably strengthened Barcelona's defence this season but there were glimpses of weakness against Munich, particularly when Robert Lewandowski was able to get Javier Mascherano in one-on-one situations.

Carlos Tevez caused Real Madrid's defence carnage on the counter-attack while it was a rare sight to see the imperious Raphael Varane on the floor following a drop of a shoulder from Fernando Llorente late on.

Mascherano has proved that he is an excellent centre-back but there are still times where he is too impetuous and keen to win the ball especially against a physically imposing striker, as both Morata and Llorente are. 

Juve's best chance of scoring is if they are able to split Mascherano and Pique and get Pogba, Vidal and Marchisio running off their markers in and around the area. 

Set pieces 

A major area of concern for Barcelona will be set pieces, given the presence of Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Pogba, Morata and Andrea Barzagli and Llorente, should they play. 

Pirlo's set piece delivery is a constant threat while Madrid found out to their detriment how powerful Juve are in the air when Pogba was able to knock the ball down for Morata to score the winning goal in the second-leg.

Barça aren't as fallible as they once were at set pieces but the difference in physicality between the two sides is undeniable. Only Pique, Busquets and Jeremy Mathieu, if he plays, are capable of matching Juventus' aerial power.   

In goal Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who has played exceptionally throughout Barça's run to the final, will have to command his area as he did to great affect against Munich. 


To beat Barcelona the Old Lady may well need lady luck on their side, especially if Messi, Neymar and Suarez are in the mood and on form.

Against Madrid both Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale failed to show up and Carlo Ancelotti's decision to play Sergio Ramos in midfield majorly backfired. 

Although it is unlikely Enrique will take any risks in the final Juventus will still need some of Barça's players to under-perform if they are to be on the victorious side in Berlin.

Whatever happens it promises to be a eagerly anticipated spectacle and, although underdogs, Juventus will have every confidence in their ability to defeat Barcelona.   

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