Two of Europe’s powerhouses are set to go head to head on Saturday, with both sides a single win away from the treble.Barcelona have returned to their brilliant best under Luis Enrique this season, with Lionel Messi leading the way, ably supported by Neymar and Luis Suarez.Up against them are Juventus, looking to add to their domestic dominance with a first Champions League title since 1996. This could be the last chance for legends like Andre Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini to get their hands on the famous trophy.
Suarez set to meet his old pals Evra and Chiellini
Few years ago in England these two players got into a war of words during a heated derby clash. Suarez apparently hurled racist comments at Evra, and was subsequently suspended eight games for the incident. The two sides met again months later. Prior to the game, Suarez refused to shake Evraa s hand. Given the fluidity with which Barca attack, these two will cross paths and lock horns on multiple occasions on June 6. Advantage: Suarez, as Evra, 33, has lost a step or two. Same antagonist, different protagonist, but more of the same for Suarez. It wasna t the first time he bit an opponent during a game, but he still manages to one-up himself by doing it at last summera s World Cup. Suarez was suspended four months, which included the first two and a half months of this season and his time at Barca. Suarez eventually apologized to Chiellini and now June 6 will be their first on-field meeting since the incident. Both Evra and Chiellini suffered humiliation at the hands of the Uruguayan at some point in their respective careers, and everyone knows that despite any claims to the opposite, there will be some revenge factor involved in the proceedings. Chiellini will likely be shutting down Suarez directly, and there is probably nothing he would want more than to keep the Barcelona forward out of the game for as long as possible. Evra might not have the same direct impact on Suarez’s game, but he might also play with greater desperation to take down a player he probably has little liking for.
Buffon will finally have a crack at the only major trophy he has never won
From Berlin to Serie B and back again. Thata s life, exclaimed Buffon after the game against Real Madrid. All sentimental gestures were understandable considering what memories a return to Berlin Champions League evokes for Buffon. a Destinya was the word that came to his mind.
Da Berlino alla B…..dalla B a Berlino!!!!!…..questa A? la vita!! #ucl
a Gianluigi Buffon (@gianluigibuffon) May 13, 2015
It is not just about winning the World Cup, it is also about the sacrifices he made around that time to stick with Juventus when they were demoted to Serie B. Buffon went from hoisting the golden trophy in front of the eyes of the world straight into the second tier of the domestic game. Many of his most talented team-mates jumped from the sinking ship Juventus but Buffon, then aged 28, was at his peak. The decision to stay for as long as it took his club to rebuild was remarkable.The glaring omission from his CV is a Champions League medal. He will have to be at his best to handle the wonders the Bar a trio of Lionel Messi, Luis SuA?rez and Neymar can create. But his blend of passion and focus will be at full power on the night.
. Which midfield maestro will control the final?
The difference between Barcelona’s Xavi and Juventus’ Andrea Pirlo is not silverware. Measured in trophies, their careers weigh heavy: Together they have won 11 domestic titles, five Champions League trophies, four Super Cups and two World Cups. What separates these two playmaking midfielders, the finest of their generation, is not substance but style. Two or three years ago, this would have been a matchup worthy of 60 newspaper inches. Two of the very best of their generation will do what they do: dictate the tempo of a game in whatever manner they see fit. Ita s hard to imagine one of these two a if not both a not having a significant impact on a European cup final at some stage. Both conduct the game: both play with rhythm. Both are 35, and we can only enjoy them for a little while longer. Xavi is cloaked brilliance, often doing stuff on the field that goes undetected, invisible, the little passes here and there that propel the play. The ball goes through him, as it must. His passing is always among the most accurate.
Pirlo doesna t hide so much on the field. His passes are often long, arcing and not as frequent. Pirlo saves energy and waits for the right moment. The way he feints to trick defenders and buy space or pinpoints a pass is all smooth and calculated. He never looks rushed. If the ball squirts out and he has to chase it down hea ll go and tackle, too. Pirlo is the nucleus. He has moved around. He isna t so much a team player as he is the teama s silent leader. Pirlo doesna t have as high a pass-completion percentage as Xavi but he does aim for longer ones. Where Xavi is safe, Pirlo is risky. Andrea Pirlo and Xavi are two of a dying breed. Midfielders more about technique than physique, their styles seem suited to a bygone era, yet they have been able to dominate for a generation. Soon they will both be gone. Xavi is off to Qatar at the end of the current campaign, bidding farewell to his beloved Barcelona after more than two decades at the Catalan club. Pirlo, meanwhile, is considering a summer exit and has said a Champions League win would be a fitting finale to his career at this level. Xavi is now 35 and Pirlo 36 and both are slightly past the peak of their powers, yet they remain vital players for their respective clubs and brought success to their national teams, too.
No less than a dozen regulars for the Spanish and Italian national teams litter the rosters and teamsheets of Barca and Juve. Two of the top footballing nations in the world the last 20 years, there is plenty of national pride on the line as well. Eight of the last 26 European cups have been won by Spanish clubs, while seven have gone home to Italy. Either Spain extends its tally to a two-cup lead, or the Italians pull level since the end of the 1980s. Italy and Spain easily represent two of the biggest and best soccer nations of all-time. Italy has won a total of 12 Champions League titles with AC Milan leading the way with seven of those. As for Spain, they have the most Champions League wins ever with 14 much thanks to Real Madrid’s 10 victories. The last time Italy and Spain collided in the finals was in 1998 when Real Madrid defeated Juventus, 1-0. This will be the first time that Barcelona and Juventus face off for the European championship.
Messi and Tevez primed for battle in Berlin
Tevez, known as the Jugador del Pueblo -the Player of the People, goes up against Lionel Messi, jugador del mundo a the best player in the world , a fierce popularity competition in Argentina.Tevez’s “poor boy past” makes him a favourite in Argentinaa more so than the “globalised star” of Messi.Tevez, 31, missed out on Alejandro Sabella’s 23-man squad for last summer’s tournament in Brazil despite a successful season with Serie A champions Juventus, with Argentina eventually losing the final to Germany. The striker failed to appear for the Albiceleste after Sabella’s appointment in 2011, but made his return last November under new coach Gerardo Martino. Tevez has repeatedly denied having a feud with Messi,said he does not believe that Lionel Messi vetoed his selection for Argentina’s 2014 World Cup squad.
While Barcelona possess one of the best players of all time, the 31-year-old could serve as a huge leveller, bridging the gap between the Italian underdogs and Luis Enriquea s heavily fancied side. He may no longer wear the captaina s armband as he did at Manchester City, but there is no denying the fact he remains a leader, with the likes of Paul Pogba, Roberto Pereyra and A?lvaro Morata aiming to match the standard Tevez sets.He might not compete with Messi in terms of his worldly scoring prowess, yet he is every inch as valuable to Juventus as Messi is to Barcelona. His match-winning performance against Real Madrid was merely the latest in a long list of such displays, including the away win over Borussia Dortmund where he scored twice and created a third in an impressive 3-0 victory.Where Messi plays with a grace and ease that makes the game look effortless, Tevez visibly works hard, playing like a man representing the authentic spirit of the Argentinian game.