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27th May 2009, Rome, Italy. Manchester United became the first team in history to have a go at defending their crown of European Kings against Barcelona. Unfortunately, it were the Catalans who came out on top, beating the Red Devils 2-0 with goals from Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi.
Eight years down the lane, Real Madrid are in the same footsteps facing Italian giants Juventus. Los Blancos have been nothing short of outstanding lately, playing their third champions league final in last four years.
A lot of the credit goes to their French Manager Zinedine Zidane who has used his players in a very intelligent manner and has given fair chance to everyone in the squad. Rotation being one of the most important policy has also carved out the best football from ageing players like Ronaldo, Ramos and Marcelo.
Talking about Ronaldo, he has been playing like a beast in this year’s UCL; Being directly involved in 15 goals which include one hat trick each against opponents like Bayern Munich and Atltico Madrid, which is no joke and shows his determination level even at the age of thirty two. Marcelo has spread magic in important ties against big teams. He made Bayern’s defence look like Sunday league football players, if not the best he will surely go down as one of the greatest full backs ever in the beautiful game. Squad depth of Real Madrid is also a huge benefit. This also resulted in players like Isco, Rodriguez and Morata being benched, but whenever the gaffer gave them the nod, none of them disappointed him. All this has led to a possible European Double for Real Madrid as they look to sweep up LaLiga and UEFA champions League.
Standing in their way is Allegri’s Juventus. If you are thinking that beating them is hard then you are totally wrong, the thing is that it is close to impossible to score against them so the question of beating them does not arise. Juventus has arguably the best defence in whole Europe and the
numbers do not speak any different, conceding only three times in the knockout stages, all of them coming from set pieces, not even one from open play.
With a solid defence like Juve, you will probably argue about their discipline, but their red card count this season in all competition is just ONE, read the last line again to confirm it!
This does not mean their attack lacks firepower; Higuain, Dybala and Mandzukic are linking up like never before. They are hungry, perhaps the ghosts of the past, that defeat against Barcelona 2 years back is still haunting them and they are waiting for revenge. They have already clinched the Copa Italia and are leading Serie A by four points with two games remaining, so they are in fray for the treble.
Cardiff will surely witness one of the most important final in recent years as the most solid defence take on the most lethal attack. Will Real Madrid claim their 12th Champions and Europe crown and arguably the most important one in the history or will Juventus deny them and become the second team from Italy to win the European Treble? History will be made anyway.