Barcelona meet Juventus in the UEFA Champions League final at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin this evening.
The winners of this evening’s game will be treble winners after both won their domestic leagues and cups.
It is the Spanish side who are undoubtedly the favourites to bring the trophy home for a fourth time over the past 10 years and here are 5 reasons why I believe Barcelona will thrash Juventus:
1. The Front Three
The reason I backed Barcelona to win this tournament at the start of the year was because I was expecting Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar to kick in and start to obliterate opponents. They already had the talented midfield to supply them and individually they were exceptional talents.
Since then, the front three have become arguably the best front three in the history of football. Barely any defence has been able to handle them since the turn of the year and they are in full flow heading into the final. Lionel Messi is back to his best, Neymar is playing as well as he ever has at Barcelona and regular readers of my blog, dating back as far as 2010 will know I’m a big fan of Luis Suárez. All of them score and create goals.
Juventus will not be able to cope with them. They are not used to playing anything as close to this in Italy and one must admit Real Madrid were far short of their best in the semi-finals regardless of how well the Italian side played. Barcelona are better than Real Madrid.
2. Giorgio Chiellini
A massive blow to Juventus is that their star centre-back is out injured. Whilst his likely replacement Andrea Barzagli is a top defender himself, it’s going to disrupt the defence no matter what. Even with Giorgio Chiellini available it would have been difficult enough, if not near-impossible to shut out this Barcelona side anyway.
3. Constant Pressure
Expecting Barcelona to dominate possession and territory as any football fan is likely to be thinking. It’s all well and good Juventus sitting back to defend as well as Italians have done over the years, but ultimately they’re very likely to make one mistake, leave one player open and they find themselves behind. Even if they’re to get in at half-time level, they will be gassing later in the second half for all the chasing they’ve done.
Lionel Messi showed at 0-0 in the first leg of Barcelona’s semi-final versus Bayern Munich what he’s capable of when he produced the opening goal almost out of nothing. Barcelona have three forwards capable of doing that and when they’re constantly in and around your penalty area with the ball, the inevitable is bound to happen…
Barcelona have obliterated Europe this season. They won five of their six group stage matches, beat the defending Premier League champions 3-1 on aggregate (should really have been a lot more but for a top performance from goalkeeper Joe Hart in the second leg), French Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain 5-1 in the quarter-finals and German Bundesliga runaway champions Bayern Munich 5-3 on aggregate (at one stage it was 5-1 before the Spanish side took their foot off the pedal).
Sure, Juventus can say they’ve had some very respectable results – 5-1 versus midtable Borussia Dortmund in the second round, 1-0 versus AS Monaco in the quarter-finals and 3-2 over Real Madrid in the semis. I’m calling it now – this Barcelona team is the greatest I’ve ever seen in my life – better than the Pep Guardiola era. The Italian side won’t know what’s hit them at 19.45 when they kick off.
Max Allergri likes to play a 4-4-2 formation – either he’s going to be brave and stick with two up front versus Barcelona or he’s going to play a more defensive formation in which the team aren’t going to be so experienced with. His formation is also narrow in midfield which defensively means Messi and Neymar can go one-on-one with the full-backs and even have their own full-backs for overlapping runs – both Dani Alves and Jordi Alba are as defining attack-minded full-backs as you’ll find.
In attack, Juventus will be relying on Álvaro Morata and Carlos Tevez pulling out wide to offer them width going forward as well as Patrice Evra and Stephan Lichtsteiner pushing forward from full-back too. This of course could leave the Serie A champions exposed on the counter-attack and with the pace Barcelona have they can be dangerous breaking into space.
I am full expecting Barcelona to win this final by at least two goals, after dominating possession and territory.