The UEFA Champions League is a part of football history since 1955; 62 years (rebranded in 1992). It is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world and the most prestigious club competition in European football. As the final of this year's edition between Spanish giants Real Madrid and Italian masters Juventus is approaching, Irfan Nazir traces the journey of both the sides to the final.
The tournament’s defending champions, Real were clubbed in a group with Borussia Dortmund, Legia Warsaw and talisman Cristiano Ronaldo’s boyhood club Sporting CP. They emerged from the group unbeaten. They finished two points behind Dortmund and faced Napoli in the Round of 16. They won both legs 3-1 and advanced into the quarter-final to face German heavyweights Bayern Munich. In a match that was remembered more for the referee’s mistakes than Cristiano Ronaldo’s second-leg hat-trick, Real beat Bayern 6-3 on aggregate before proceeding to beat Atletico Madrid 4-2 in the semi-final. Since the UEFA Champions League replaced the erstwhile European Cup, Real Madrid is the only third side after Ajax and Manchester United to have won the tournament and reach the final in the subsequent year. If Real beat Juventus, they will be first team to defend their title since the tournament was rechristened and the first team since Milan in 1990 to do so.
Route to finals (Juventus)
The Italian champions were placed in a group along with Sevilla FC, Olympique Lyonnais and Dynamo Zagreb. They qualified as champions of the group for the Round of 16 where they faced Porto. The Portuguese side was well out of their depth and lost 2-0 at home before losing the second leg 1-0 at the Juventus stadium. Juventus then saw off Spanish giants Barcelona 3-0 on aggregate before finally beating Monaco in the semi-final 4-1. Throughout the campaign, Juventus have conceded only three goals. It is their second Champions League final in three years. Last time, they were blown away by Barcelona in the final stage and they now face Barca’s bitter rivals.
This will be the 19th UEFA competition meeting between the two clubs, and there is virtually nothing between the two clubs, both teams have eight wins and two draws.
Both the teams are on rise, both have won their respective leagues, Juventus the Italian Seria a league and Real madrid emerged victorious in La Liga just last week.
This final will be mostly between the defense of Juventus against the scoring machine Cristiano ronaldo and his other forward players, as mentioned before. Juventus have conceded just three goals during this year's competition till now.
While on the other hand Ronaldo has scored goals at will, as he does mostly, during this year's edition.
On current form, world's best player in their club, Isco's return to form and playing eleven, Ramo's capable defending, the threat of Karim Benzema and Bale and the manager who wants more trophies to shut critics. Real Madrid are clear favourites to become the first club since 1990 to defend the title.
While on the other side, Juventus surely has the capability to give surprises like they did against the Spanish heavyweights Barcelona earlier in the competition, you never know.
They have solid back line, excellent leader and goalkeeper in Gianluigi buffon, dark horse Gonzala Higuin and most importantly Massimilliano Allegri as a manager. The man with great imagination and tactically brilliant, he has already shown he is among the top managers in the world.
So, on June 4, at Cardiff, Once again a team will taste the glory, Once again a team will be disappointed for their loss, May be the great cr7's goal or may the legendary Buffon’s save.
All the curiosity will be answered on June 4 at cardiff.
My prediction: 60:40 real Madrid
- Cristiano Ronaldo is the only player in the history of champion’s league to score more than a 100 goals.
2. Real Madrid is the most successful club at champion’s league history with 11 titles to their name.
3. Since the tournament rebranded in 1992, no club has managed to defend their title.
4. Juventus holds the unwanted record of being runners up six times.
5. Real Madrid manager, the French icon, Zinedine zidane is among the seven men who have won the tournament both as a player and manager.
6. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel messi share the record for the most hat-tricks (seven) in UEFA champions league.
7. Cristiano Ronaldo is the only player to score three hat-tricks in a single season and the only player to score two consecutive hat-tricks in a knockout stage.
Irfan Nazir is the Sports Editor with ‘The Kashmiriyat’ and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org