The Champions League Final is like Christmas for many soccer fans around the world. Barcelona and Juventus will compete for the ultimate prize in European club soccer on Saturday at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.
Both teams have won their national leagues and cups already this season, and are now going for the elusive treble. Barcelona has done it once back in 2008-09 when they won La Liga, Copa Del Rey and the Champions League. Juventus is looking to become only the fifth club since 1998-99 to win the treble (Manchester United 98-99, Barcelona 08-09, Inter 09-10 and Bayern Munich 12-13).
Juventus steamrolled through Serie A this season and won the league by a 17-point margin, losing only three games. Barcelona and Real Madrid battled for the win in La Liga, but Barcelona edged out Real and won by two points and only lost four games.
In the Champions League, Juventus ended up second in Group A behind Atletico Madrid with a record of three wins, one draw and two losses. They only scored seven goals during the six group stage games, but allowed just four. The picked up the goal scoring in the first knockout round, as they beat Borussia Dortmund 5-1 on aggregate that included a 3-0 on the road.
In the quarterfinals, they squeezed by AS Monaco 1-0 after two thrilling games where Arturo Vidal’s penalty-kick goal in the first game ended up being the winning goal. In the semifinals, they went up against last season’s champions in Real Madrid, but after two tactically perfect games, Juventus were the victors 3-2 on aggregate.
Barcelona’s way to the final started with the Catalonian side winning Group F on 15 points with five wins and one loss. Barca scored 15 goals in those six matches and allowed five. In the first knockout round they went up against Manchester City and went through 3-1 on aggregate after a 2-1 away and a 1-0 win at home.
They then went on to meet Paris Saint-Germain in the quarterfinals. They split the two games they played during the group stage, but in the quarterfinal it was no doubt that Barca would go through. With a 3-1 win in Paris and a 2-0 win at home, they easily dispatched the French league champions.
In the semifinals against Bayern Munich, Messi once again showed why he’s the best in the world, scoring twice in the first game with Barca winning 3-0. Brazilian star striker Neymar scored both goals in the return leg, as Bayern won 3-2 but Barca going through 5-3 on aggregate.
It will be an historic night in Berlin on Saturday, as Barcelona can become the first team in modern history to win the treble twice. If Juventus win, they will join that small group of treble winners, and really put a nice bow on a fantastic season.
Both teams have superstar players, and if Juventus can get the first goal it would make for a very interesting game as Italian sides are so sound tactically when playing with a lead, and it would force Barcelona to go forward and with players like Messi and Neymar, they can break down any defense.
Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini will miss the final, and the Italian international will be missed. Chiellini has been the backbone of the Juve defense, and his big-game experience can’t be replaced. The final could also be Andrea Pirlo’s last game for Juventus, as the midfielder reportedly has agreed to a contract with New York City FC in the MLS.
The 36-year-old midfielder has played more than 100 games for Juventus and has 113 appearances for the Italian national team on his resume, and he will be one of the keys if Juventus is going to win over a strong Barcelona side. In his defensive midfield role, he creates so much of Juventus attacks with his excellent passing game.
For Barca, it’s all about Messi and Neymar and if they can put on another stellar performance. Messi has 10 goals in 12 Champions League games this season and Neymar has nine goals in 11 games. Then you can’t forget about Luis Suarez, who is the third link in Barca’s attacking trio, as he has six goals in nine games.