‘This one could go either way’ is a phrase often used by pundits as merely a get of jail card, upon being asked to predict the outcome of the match in question. Two evenly matched teams meet, the pundit doesn’t choose to predict, and therefore the encounter is labelled as a game that could go either way.
But not this one. The last two previews on this website have, in all honesty, been drastically inaccurate.
Still, after all, there is no man on this earth with a crystal ball, and predicting is almost a lottery when it comes to football at the highest level. So, in fairness, I concede that maybe I should have anticipated Leo Messi’s brilliance in El Clasico, but come on, who thought that a struggling, injury ridden Arsenal side with a manger whose future is in question would beat the classy, impressive Premier League champions, Chelsea?
Anyway, those two games, despite being won by the ‘underdogs’, seemed straightforward enough to choose a favourite for.
Tonight, however, offers a very different encounter.
The Galacticos, lead by a previous Galactico himself in the form of Zinedine Zidane, who are champions of Spain and overcame the likes of Napoli, Bayern and Atletico en route to the final, face the ‘Old Lady’, current champions of Italy who reached the final after comfortably dismantling Barcelona on their way, conceding only one goal in all of their knockout games.
Regarding the game’s tactics, full-backs, as they often are for Real Madrid, could prove key figures in deciding the outcome of today’s final.
Marcelo and Carvajal, who are both excellent players and offer a further dimension to Real’s attack, will need to be contained by Juve, and could prove a difficult task.
As Juventus play with three central defenders and wing-backs, leaving Alex Sandro and Dani Alves to contain Real’s threat out wide would probably not only leave them exposed to being overloaded by a winger and full-back, but it would also quash their own attacking threat, and Dani Alves and Alex Sandro are both impressive players when going forward themselves.
In order to prevent Marcelo and Carvajal from causing havoc, Juventus wingers Juan Cuadrado and Mario Mandzukic will need to force them back by pressing high, which would therefore see the game come through the middle more, leaving an interesting midfield battle, where Toni Kroos and Luka Modric will be likely to relish.
If Marcelo and Carvajal are given the freedom to roam however, it could prove tricky for even Juventus’ incredible defence to stop them from delivering balls into the box where Cristiano Ronaldo, who drifts in from wide areas in menacing fashion, is almost impossible to mark, and when he is presented with a free header, he doesn’t miss, such is his sensational ariel ability.
Still, if there were a team in the world who could keep Real Madrid at bay for ninety minutes, it would be Juventus, especially with the outstanidng Gianluigi Buffon in goal who is looking to complete his trophy collection by finally getting his hands on European football’s most coveted prize.
As for Juventus going forward, Gonzalo Higuian will be hoping to shake off his ‘flat track bully’ tag after many disappointing major finals in recent years accompanied by goal after goal after goal in domestic football against the so called ‘lesser teams’.
His fellow countryman and strike partner, Paulo Dybala, already has a glowing reputation in Italy, and will look to show the world just how good he is in tonight’s final after two impressive goals against Barcelona in the quarter final stage.
So, whilst predicting hasn’t really gone my way recently, I dare to use my crystal ball to guess tonight’s outcome in a game that truly could go either way: Real Madrid 1-2 Juventus AET.