Two national champions will now battle to be the kings of Europe as star-studded, imperious looking Barcelona aim for their fifth continental triumph against Juventus, who are competing in their first final since 2003.
Champions League final 2015 combined XI
There has been just no stopping Barcelona this season, with Lionel Messi regaining top form under boss Luis Enrique to spearhead a mercurial front three that also comprises of Neymar and Luis Suarez. The four-time Ballon D’Or winner was irresistible in the semi-final as Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich were mercilessly and ominously taken apart, so attempting to stop him will be first on Juventus’ priority list for this intriguing match-up at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.
The Serie A winners will have their work cut out and are considered massive underdogs, but they have plenty of quality in their own right and will cause Barca problems themselves. Paul Pogba is one of Europe’s leading midfield talents and along with the industrious Arturo Vidal will play a key role in how his side fare. In attack, Carlos Tevez will not give the Barca defence a moment’s peace, while Alvaro Morata has shown on many occasions this term that he is capable of putting chances away.
It was he who accounted for former club Real Madrid in the semi-finals as for the first time in several years, Juve are now strong enough to compete and win against the best sides in Europe. They kept Cristiano Ronaldo relatively quiet in both legs and have a stubborn defensive unit, and although Giorgio Chiellini will be a big miss for them here, they will still be supremely well organised.
The experienced defender’s absence means that he will not come up against Suarez in what was a highly anticipated sub-plot, but Patrice Evra is likely to feature for the Italian club to face his former Premier League foe.
It should be expected that Barcelona have the majority of the possession as they so often do, while Juventus aim to frustrate by keeping men behind the ball and trying to hit them on the counter-attack. It worked against Real Madrid, but with Barca firing on all cylinders at present it is a trick that could be difficult to repeat successfully. It is a game-plan that requires discipline, so the likes of Vidal and attacking right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner must take special care.
This promises to be an emotional evening for Barca midfielder Xavi Hernandez, regardless of the outcome. Over a decade an a half he has acquired legendary status thanks to his meticulous passing, intelligence and calming influence. Winning the Champions League for a fourth time would be his crowning glory as he leaves the club, and this may also lay claim to being the best team he has been part of; an accolade which is now looking an increasingly close-run thing when compared to the team under Guardiola of between 2008 and 2012.
Xavi’s long-term central midfield partner Andres Iniesta should start having been a slight doubt after picking up a calf injury in the Copa Del Rey final win over Athletic Bilbao.
Juventus, who are also aiming to claim a famous treble, will be without defensive midfielder Martin Caceres, while Andrea Barzagli is hoping to be passed fit in time to replace Chiellini at the back.
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