Juventus take on Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League final at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin on Saturday. Here we look at Monday’s build-up.
Buffon: Juve have less than 35 per cent chance of winning
Gianluigi Buffon has never won the Champions League in his illustrious career and the veteran appears to be pessimistic over his chances of lifting the trophy this weekend. The Italy international says Juve had a “35 per cent chance” of beating Real Madrid in the semi-finals and believes the odds of doing the same against Barca are even slimmer.
Iniesta final place in the balance
While Buffon has played down Juve’s hopes, there has been news of a potential boost for the Serie A champions’ chances. Reports in the Spanish media suggest that Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta’s place in the final is in the balance due to an injury he suffered in the Copa del Rey showpiece against Athletic Bilbao. Iniesta has reportedly not torn a muscle in his calf but could still be left out by coach Luis Enrique if the problem is deemed serious enough.
Messi would not be able to score goals like that in Italy – Chiellini
The world marvelled at Lionel Messi’s magical solo opener in that 3-1 win over Bilbao. However, Juve defender Giorgio Chiellini seems distinctly unimpressed. The centre-back said: “Messi would not be able to score goals like that in Italy. At the moment he is the God of football. The offensive play in Spain is great but we defend better here in Italy.” Chiellini will have to back those words up in the German capital if Juve are to stop Barca’s remarkable talisman.
No problem shaking hands with Suarez – Chiellini
One of the biggest storylines surrounding this encounter concerns the aforementioned Italy international and Barca forward Luis Suarez, who left his mark on Chiellini during last year’s World Cup by biting his shoulder. Suarez was famously banned from football for four months but the pair quickly made up. And Chiellini states there will be no hard feelings during their first meeting since that incident. He said: “I’ve no problem in shaking his hand; everyone who knows me would know that.”
I want to repay Barca – Messi
With all the trophies Barca have won as a result of Messi’s brilliance, most would suggest the Argentina forward owes nothing to the club. Messi does not see it way, however, and has one mission ahead of the final. “We know it won’t be easy because Juventus are a great team and anything can happen,” Messi told UEFA.com. “I grew up at this club and want to do so much for them in light of everything they’ve done for me.”
Juve can beat Barca – Van Basten
Netherlands legend Marco van Basten has plenty of knowledge of Italian football and winning Europe’s top competition, having lifted this trophy twice with Milan. And, while Juve are heavy underdogs, Van Basten feels Massimiliano Allegri’s men are capable of a surprise. He told Sky Sports: “The good thing for Juventus is that they are a team that understands and reads the flow of the game. So if they feel they need to defend they have the discipline to defend, but if they have the possibility to attack they will go forward. That’s what gives them the chance to beat Barca.”
Rakitic calls for calm
It seems implausible that a team as experienced as Barca would lose composure on the big stage but, amid the hoopla of a potential treble for the Catalans, midfielder Ivan Rakitic has been quick to warn against such an eventuality. “We can let our emotions run wild if we get our hands on the trophy,” he told FIFA.com. “But there’s a match to play first.”
Juve preparing for penalties
The news that an Italian team are preparing for penalties will shock nobody. And Allegri confirmed that Juve will be ready should they hold out for 120 minutes. “We can also end up shooting penalties,” he said. “We have to be prepared, there is a chance, but I think it is difficult for this match to end up on penalties.” Juve lost to Milan on penalties in their last Champions League final in 2003 after a 0-0 draw that did not live long in the memory.
Morata ready to do it for Real
Alvaro Morata did not celebrate either of his goals over the two legs as he helped knock out former club Real Madrid. But it is tough to imagine him being so reserved should he net in the final against the Spanish capital club’s archrivals. He told Cadena SER: “I’ll try to win, because of what it means for Real Madrid fans as well.”
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