For two of European footballs biggest teams, Saturday night will be the culmination of their season. One will walk away having won a treble of trophies, the other will have to console themselves with being the league and cup winners domestically, but falling just short of the kings of Europe.
It’s the final of the Champions League and for the first time in the history of the competition, Serie A and Coppa Italia winners Juventus will take on La Liga and Copa del Rey winners Barcelona as they meet for the first time in the most prestigious club game in football.
It is arguably the purists dream final, with certainly the best attacking team in the competition in Barcelona taking on the team that has proven over the course of this season’s Champions League that they have a rock solid defence.
It is a game that also pits Luis Suarez against both Patrice Evra and Giorgio Chiellini, players with whom the controversial Uruguayan has had infamous run ins with in the past.
The list of top quality players that will be on the pitch on Saturday night, from Italian veterans Pirlo, Buffon, Chiellini and Marchiso, through to the brilliance of players like Carlos Tevez, Neymar, Suarez, Andres Iniesta and of course, Lionel Messi, it is a game that has already captured the imagination of the football world.
With billions expected to tune in across the globe, which of the two teams is most likely to come out on top, and what are the best tips available for what promises to be a hugely entertaining game and a clash of footballing styles and cultures.
Let’s take a look at both teams in more detail below before we give you some top tips for the game if you plan to place bets on this event at Bet365. If you aren’t a customer of this top-rated UK sports wagering site, signing up is quick and easy and new UK punters will be entitled to claim free bets at Bet365 Sports.
After several years of underperforming on the biggest stage in Europe, Juventus finally found their top form in the Champions League this season and after progressing from a difficult group stage, where they lost two of their first three games, Juventus really hit form in the knockout stage.
They defeated Dortmund 5-1 on aggregate, Monaco 1-0 on aggregate and then eclipsed the much-fancied Real Madrid 3-2 in the semi final, thanks to a goal in Madrid against his former team by Alvaro Morata.
Carlos Tevez has been their Talisman in the competition with 7 goals from 12 games, and Alvaro Morata has notched four in 11, though two of those were crucial strikes in the semi final.
Juventus strength is their spine which is blessed with outstanding talent and huge experience in World Cup winners, Gianlugi Buffon in goal, Giorgio Chiellini in central defence and Andrea Pirlo in midfield.
Add to that the industry of Carlos Marchisio and Carlos Tevez in attack, plus the rangy Morata’s goalscoring prowess and you can see why Juventus have been rock solid defensively in the knockout stages, only conceding three goals in their last eight Champions League games.
The “Old Lady” of Turin have been the dominant side in Serie A for several seasons now and have claimed the league title and the domestic cup competition ahead of the Champions League final, their first appearance in the final since they lost to AC Milan in the 2003.
Probable team: (4-1-3-2):
- Gianlugi Buffon (GK)
- Stephan Lichsteiner (Dr)
- Patrice Evra (Dl)
- Giorgio Chiellini (Dc)
- Leonardo Bonucci (Dc)
- Andrea Pirlo (DMc)
- Paul Pogba (Mc)
- Arturo Vidal (Mc)
- Claudio Marchisio (Mc)
- Carlos Tevez (AMc)
- Alvaro Morata (Ac)
If one team can be said to have been the dominant force in the Champions League in the past decade, then Barcelona are certainly the team. Since 2006, they have won the tournament three times, although their last victory was back in 2011.
Luis Enrique’s talented and exciting team are the hot bookmakers’ favourites to lift the trophy at the weekend.
After an inauspicious start to their Champions League campaign, which featured a disappointing 1-0 home win to Cypriot minnows APOEL, followed by a 3-2 defeat in Paris. Barcelona have since found their best form winning all of their subsequent nine games in the competition until they lost the second leg of their semi final to Bayern Munich in Germany.
That has included victories home and away in the knockout stage against Manchester City (3-1 on aggregate), Paris St Germain (5-1 on aggregate) and Bayern Munich (5-3 on aggregate).
It’s important not to read too much into that defeat in Munich as Barca were already 3-0 up from the first leg and their two away goals had given them an unassailable lead over the German champions.
Barcelona’s domestic league and cup success has been built on a stronger defence under Luis Enrique allied with the attacking genius of Neymar, Messi and Suarez, who have netted a staggering 120 goals between them this season. Messi has 10 goals in 12 Champions League games this season, Neymar has 9 goals from 11 and Suarez 6 from 9. Can Juventus defence cope with an attack this talented and prolific?
If they can then this may well decide the destination of the trophy on Saturday night.
Probable team: (4-3-3):
- Marc-Andre Ter Stegen (GK)
- Daniel Alves (Dr)
- Jordi Alba (Dl)
- Gerard Pique (Dc)
- Javier Mascherano (Dc)
- Sergio Busquets (DMc)
- Andres Iniesta (Mc)
- Ivan Rakitic (Mc)
- Neymar (Al)
- Lionel Messi (Ar)
- Luis Suarez (Ac)
Juventus v Barcelona Champions League final tips
Despite their superb season Juventus are very much the second favourites with the bookmakers as Barcelona are a very short 8/13 to win the trophy on Saturday inside 90 minutes. With the draw a somewhat appealing 3-1 shot.
Indeed, the draw may look appealing but given the form of Messi, Suarez and Neymar at the moment, it is hard to see how even a defence as talented and experienced as Juventus’ can keep them quiet for 90 minutes.
That said, Juventus do have a potency in attack and are set up to hit on the counter attack as they did so well against Real Madrid in the semi final. Barcelona’s defence is improved, but I still think they are not a strong unit and I could see Juventus stealing a goal inside 90 minutes.
As such, the 1-1 draw at 13/2 looks a decent bet, or you could take the draw inside 90 minutes at 3/1 as stated earlier.
My favourite bet however is to back Lionel Messi to score at any time. The Argentinean is a 10/11 shot to score at any time in the game and given that he has scored in Barcelona’s past two Champions League victories and is in incredible form, this looks a solid bet, even at slightly odds on.
There’s no doubt in my mind Barcelona will win the tie however, I can see Juventus pushing them hard and taking the game into extra time, hence me backing the draw selection.