Big Match Feature: Juve v Barca

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images (1)Two of European football’s great names meet in the 2014/15 Uefa Champions League final as Juventus and FC Barcelona face off at Berlin’s Olympiastadion on Saturday.

Juventus, appearing in their first final in 12 years, are seeking a third European crown at the expense of a Barcelona side with their sights set on a fifth title – and fourth in the past decade.

For both coaches, victory in Berlin would be the icing on the cake of an already impressive debut season, Massimiliano Allegri having led his Juventus team to the Serie A title, with Luis Enrique achieving the same feat in Spain with Barça.

Indeed, having both also triumphed in their domestic cup finals, Barcelona or Juventus would complete a treble with victory in Berlin. In Barça’s case, it would be a record second after their success in 2008/09. In addition to that Barcelona side, previous treble winners are Celtic FC (1967), AFC Ajax (1972), PSV Eindhoven (1988), Manchester United FC (1999), FC Internazionale Milano (2010) and FC Bayern München (2013).

Final pedigree

Juventus

• For Juventus this is their eighth European Cup final. Their record is W2 L5:

1972/73 0-1 v AFC Ajax

1982/83 0-1 v Hamburger SV

1984/85 1-0 v Liverpool FC

1995/96 1-1 v AFC Ajax (4-2 pens)

1996/97 1-3 v Borussia Dortmund*

1997/98 0-1 v Real Madrid CF

2002/03 0-0 v AC Milan (2-3 pens)

*played at Munich’s Olympiastadion

Juve, SL Benfica and Bayern have all lost five European Cup finals; no side has suffered six defeats.

Juventus have also played in four Uefa Cup finals – winning three (1977, 1990, 1993) and losing one (1995) – as well as the 1984 European Cup Winners’ Cup final, which they won.

The Turin club’s squad features four players with Uefa Champions League final-winning experience: Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan 2003, 2007); Patrice Evra and Carlos Tévez (Manchester United FC 2008); Álvaro Morata (Real Madrid CF 2014).

A substitute in Madrid’s final victory 12 months ago, Morata could become the fourth player to appear in Uefa Champions League final victories in successive seasons for different clubs, after Marcel Desailly (Olympique de Marseille 1993, Milan 1994), Paulo Sousa (Juventus 1996, Dortmund 1997) and Samuel Eto’o (Barcelona 2009, Inter 2010).

A member of AS Monaco FC’s beaten finalists in 2004, Evra tasted defeat against Barcelona with United in both the 2009 and 2011 finals, with Tévez featuring in the 2009 game too.

Buffon is the sole survivor of Juventus’s last final appearance in 2003, when Pirlo was on the opposing sid

This is also Barcelona’s eighth European Cup final and their record is W4 L3:

1960/61 2-3 v SL Benfica

1985/86 0-0 v FC Steaua Bucuresti (0-2 pens)

1991/92 1-0 v UC Sampdoria (aet)

1993/94 0-4 v AC Milan

2005/06 2-1 v Arsenal FC

2008/09 2-0 v Manchester United FC

2010/11 3-1 v Manchester United FC

A scorer in Barcelona’s 2009 and 2011 victories, Lionel Messi could become the first player to find the net in three Uefa Champions League finals.

As well as facing Italy’s Sampdoria and Milan in European Cup finals, Barcelona also beat Samp 2-0 in the 1989 European Cup Winners’ Cup final.

In total Barcelona played in six Uefa Cup Winners’ Cup finals, winning in 1979, 1982, 1989 and 1997 and losing in 1969 and 1991. Luis Enrique was a member of their victorious 1997 side against Paris Saint-Germain.

Barcelona have eight survivors of their 2011 Uefa Champions League final team in their squad: Daniel Alves, Gerard Piqué, Xavi Hernández, Andrés Iniesta, Javier Mascherano, Sergio Busquets, Pedro Rodríguez and Lionel Messi. Adriano was an unused substitute.

Ivan Rakitic was man of the match for Sevilla FC in last season’s Uefa Europa League final.

Previous meetings

Juventus edged past Barcelona 3-2 on aggregate when the clubs met in the 2002/03 Uefa Champions League quarterfinals. After a 1-1 draw in Turin, Marcelo Zalayeta’s 114th-minute goal secured victory for Juve at the Camp Nou after Xavi had equalised a Pavel Nedved strike.

Luis Enrique played alongside Xavi in both of those ties, captaining Barcelona in the second leg. Buffon was in goal for Juventus.

Barcelona ended Juventus’s European Cup defence in the 1985/86 quarterfinals, winning 1-0 in Spain before a 1-1 draw in Turin where Michel Platini got the Bianconeri’s goal.

Five years later Barcelona came out on top in the sides’ 1990/91 European Cup Winners’ Cup semifinal, winning 3-1 at home before a 1-0 defeat in Italy.

Match Background

Juventus

Juventus reached the final by deposing holders Real Madrid CF with a 3-2 aggregate success in the last four. They are now looking to mark the 30th anniversary of their first European Cup triumph by reclaiming the trophy at the expense of another Spanish giant.

Allegri’s men are on a nine-game unbeaten run in the competition, keeping five clean sheets.

Barcelona are the third Spanish opponents for Juve in this campaign. In the group stage, they lost 1-0 at Club Atlético de Madrid before a 0-0 home draw.

The Italian side’s overall record against Spanish clubs is P44 W15 D11 L18.

Juve’s shoot-out record in Uefa competition is W3 L3:

2-3 v AC Milan, 2002/03 Uefa Champions League final

4-2 v AFC Ajax, 1995/96 Uefa Champions League final

1-3 v Real Madrid CF, 1986/87 European Cup second round

4-2 v Argentinos Juniors, 1985 European/South American Cup final

1-4 v Widzew Lódz, 1980/81 Uefa Cup second round

3-0 v AFC Ajax, 1977/78 European Cup quarterfinal

Barcelona

Barcelona are back in the final after a four-year absence, and booked their ticket to Berlin by beating FC Bayern München 5-3 on aggregate in the semifinals. Prior to their second-leg loss in Munich, they were on a nine-match winning streak in the competition.

Barcelona last faced Italian opponents in last term’s group stage, overcoming a Milan side coached by Allegri 3-1 at home after a 1-1 away draw.

The Spanish champions’ record against teams from Italy is P43 W22 D13 L8.

Messi has scored seven goals in his last five appearances against Serie A sides.

Barcelona’s shoot-out record in Uefa competition is W5 L1:

5-4 v KKS Lech Poznan, 1988/89 European Cup Winners’ Cup second round

0-2 v FC Steaua Bucuresti, 1985/86 European Cup final

5-4 v IFK Göteborg, 1985/86 European Cup semifinal

4-1 v RSC Anderlecht, 1978/79 European Cup Winners’ Cup second round

3-1 v Ipswich Town FC, 1977/78 Uefa Cup third round

5-4 v AZ Alkmaar, 1977/78 Uefa Cup second round

Coach and player links

As coach of Milan (2010–14), Allegri suffered Uefa Champions League elimination against Barcelona in two successive seasons, losing in the 2011/12 quarterfinals (1-3 agg) and the 2012/13 round of 16 (2-4 agg). His full record in eight games against the Blaugrana is W1 D3 L4.

As a player Luis Enrique was twice eliminated in the Uefa Champions League quarterfinals by Juventus, with Barcelona in 2002/03 and Real Madrid in 1995/96.

• As AS Roma coach in 2011/12, Luis Enrique faced Juventus three times. In Serie A he oversaw a 1-1 home draw – Giorgio Chiellini scoring for the Bianconeri – and a 4-0 away loss where Arturo Vidal (2), Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio scored. Roma also lost 3-0 in a Coppa Italia quarterfinal in Turin.

Luis Enrique also lost both meetings with Allegri’s Milan that season, going down 3-2 at home and 2-1 at San Siro.

Vidal helped eliminate holders Spain from the 2014 Fifa World Cup when his Chile team – also including Claudio Bravo – earned a 2-0 win over a Spanish side containing Jordi Alba, Pedro, Busquets and Iniesta.

Uruguay knocked out Italy at last year’s World Cup with a 1-0 victory in Natal; Luis Suárez, Cristian Rodríguez and Martín Cáceres (Uruguay); Buffon, Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli, Pirlo and the red-carded Claudio Marchisio (Italy) all featured.

Xavi, Iniesta, Piqué and Busquets converted spot kicks past Buffon as Spain beat Italy 7-6 on penalties in the 2013 Fifa Confederations Cup semifinal. Pirlo scored for Italy, but Bonucci missed. Neymar also scored past Buffon in Brazil’s 4-2 group win over Italy earlier in the tournament.

Alba scored past Buffon in Spain’s 4-0 victory over Italy in the Uefa EURO 2012 final. Piqué, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta and Pedro were also in the Spain team – Fernando Llorente on the bench – while the Azzurri side included Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini, Pirlo and Marchisio.

Stephan Lichtsteiner scored past Marc-André ter Stegen on the goalkeeper’s Germany debut in a 5-3 defeat by Switzerland in May 2012.

Piqué played with Evra and Tévez at Manchester United in 2007/08, while Tévez was a club-mate of Javier Mascherano with SC Corinthians Paulista (2005–06) and West Ham United FC (2006/07).

Cáceres played 13 Liga games for Barcelona in 2008/09. He made two Uefa Champions League appearances and was on the bench for that season’s final victory over Manchester United.

Cáceres and Rakitic were teammates at Sevilla between 2011 and 2012.

• Morata started one ‘Clásico’ against Barcelona – Madrid’s 2-1 home win in March 2013 – and also appeared as a substitute in Madrid’s 4-3 home loss the following season.

Llorente won just once in 20 meetings with Barcelona as an Athletic player, scoring three times.

Venue notes

• Pirlo and Buffon won the 2006 World Cup at the Olympiastadion, the former scoring the opening penalty in Italy’s 5-3 shoot-out triumph over France. Andrea Barzagli was an unused substitute for Italy.

• Berlin is the fourth German city to have hosted the European Cup final after Munich (1980, 1993, 1997, 2012), Gelsenkircken (2004) and Stuttgart (1959, 1988). A Spanish club, Real Madrid, won the first final staged in Germany, beating Stade de Reims 2-0 in Stuttgart in 1958/59.

Match facts

Juventus

Juventus clinched a fourth successive Italian title three days before their semifinal first leg against Real Madrid. Since the return match in Spain on 13 May, the Bianconeri have beaten Inter (2-1) and SSC Napoli (3-1) in Serie A and drawn with last-day opponents Hellas Verona FC (2-2).

For the second consecutive season, Juventus ended the campaign 17 points clear of runners-up Roma. Allegri’s men had the most prolific attack (72 goals scored) and the meanest defence (24 conceded).

Juventus are nine games unbeaten in all competitions.

Chiellini’s first club goal since 2 February 2014 drew Juventus level against SS Lazio in the Coppa Italia final on 20 May. Alessandro Matri’s extra-time winner sealed a 2-1 victory as the Turin side ended a two-decade wait for domestic cup glory.

The triumph was the Old Lady’s 10th in the competition, a record, and rubber-stamped the club’s third double.

Stefano Sturaro scored his first goal for Juventus in the defeat of Napoli on 23 May. Simone Pepe, who has struggled with injuries for two and a half years, rounded things off from the spot – his first goal since 11 April 2012.

Rested for the Coppa Italia decider, Buffon made the 900th competitive appearance of his career during the Napoli game, stopping a penalty from Lorenzo Insigne.

Tévez, who had a late spot kick saved against Verona, finished as Juve’s 20-goal top scorer in Serie A, two behind leading marksmen Luca Toni and Mauro Icardi.

On 25 May, Allegri received the Enzo Bearzot Award, the fifth edition of an accolade named in honour of Italy’s 1982 World Cup-winning coach.

Cáceres (out since 5 March, ankle) is still sidelined. Barzagli suffered a thigh strain against Napoli and is a doubt for the final.

Chiellini has been ruled out of the Berlin final having suffered a calf injury in training on 3 June.

On 4 June, Juve signed 21-year-old forward Paulo Dybala from US Città di Palermo for a fee that could rise as high as €40m.

Barcelona

Xavi became the first player to make 150 Uefa Champions League appearances when he featured as a substitute in the semifinal second leg against Bayern.

Five days after that 3-2 loss in Germany, Barcelona wrapped up their 23rd Liga title by winning 1-0 at Atlético.

The Azulgrana surrendered a two-goal lead when drawing 2-2 against visitors RC Deportivo La Coruña on the last day of the Liga season. Having recovered from a hamstring injury that had sidelined him since the 2014 World Cup, Thomas Vermaelen made his Barcelona debut, playing 61 minutes.

Barça won a record-extending 27th Copa del Rey on 30 May, completing the club’s sixth domestic double, by beating Athletic 3-1 at the Camp Nou. Messi opened and rounded off the scoring, while Neymar was also on target.

Messi, Neymar and Suárez have scored 120 goals between them in all competitions this term, surpassing the 118 Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuaín managed for Real Madrid in 2011/12.

Messi has scored 58 goals this season – 43 in the Liga, 10 in the Uefa Champions League and five in the Copa del Rey.

Barcelona announced on 2 June that they had reached an agreement with Alba to extend the left-back’s contract until summer 2020.

Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus coach

We started the season with an important objective – to get to the quarterfinals. Now we’ve got to the final and we have to be winners. We need to take the last step; that’s always hard, especially in a Champions League final.

Messi, Neymar, Suárez, it’s the usual question since the semifinal – how do you stop them, how do you stop them? We need to be very skilled but we need to recognise we’re not going to draw; we need to score. How do you stop Barcelona? We need to think how to score. We need to be strong technically because they’re a technical team and attack is their best weapon so we need to be very, very aware of that.

We need to stay focused for 90 minutes, right until the end. We need to be mentally strong and turn things around because we’re second favourites to Barcelona. It’s a one-off match, no chance to play again, so we need to be fit. We are physically fine and the same goes for our mental strength. We need to be good against a great team but, like all teams, they do have faults and weaknesses.

One of the two teams will win a treble, either Juventus or Barcelona – hopefully us. We need to recognise this isn’t easy. It’s not easy to manage great teams, despite how it seems from the outside. Luis Enrique was a great manager at Roma; this is a new league and a new situation but even back then it was clear he was right in his ideas. My role as manager is trying to add value to a team who were already capable, improving them even more.

It should be a great game. As with all Champions League finals, we’ll need some luck and we’ll need to work for that.

We’re very sorry for what happened to Chiellini but I guess it was meant to be. We lost a player who had been great for us from the start of the season. Barzagli and Ogbonna are both fit; if Barzagli feels OK he’s going to play, otherwise it’s Ogbonna.

It’s important that we have an Italian team in the final. The last time was five years ago, in 2010 when Inter won. We can see the enthusiasm; most Italians are looking forward to seeing Juventus lift the cup. This is going to be something positive for our game.

Irrespective of the outcome, we’ve had an extraordinary season. Apart from the league title and the 10th Coppa Italia, which had been missing for 20 years, we have to consider the consolidation of the team in Europe, getting back among the top eight teams. That’s important for building momentum.

Luis Enrique, Barcelona coach

[Getting better] is a normal process throughout a season, especially bearing in mind this is my first season in charge. The team is now where it wants to be – with two trophies and the possibility of a third. We’re entering this game with great excitement and hopes of playing a great match so we can be better than our opponents.

Midfield is where the game takes shape, whether that’s attack or defence. We have to dominate both the offensive and the defensive side of things. We want to play our game – have the ball, create danger and minimise any opportunities for our opponents.

There is some euphoria among the fans and we’re delighted to see that – that feeling has been there for several months. As players and coaches, we’re focusing on this match with a great sense of seriousness and responsibility. We have to handle the occasion properly and make sure we have a good day so we can deal with such powerful opponents.

I imagine we’ll have more possession, we hope to spend more time in their half. We’ll have to play at a high level, it’s going to be a difficult match. Juve have a very similar style to ours, they also need the ball. They’re very good in defence, they’re very resourceful and that’s why they’re in the same position as us – they can win the treble too. We know Juve will want and they’re going to pressure us. Who will win depends on who adapts better to those situations.

We’ve scored lots of goals in the Champions League but we know finals are very different; there’s a lot of tension so we’ll have to block that out. The strikers have got all the headlines and that’s natural. To be here today, having already won those two trophies in Spain, the players know you need a squad – we wouldn’t have got here without our defenders too.

We have a unique set of players, a unique generation given the number of trophies Barcelona have won. I hope we see a great final, an open, exciting game – that would be great for football, and the better side would win. This is going to be one of the best matches you can watch – the champions of Italy and Spain. It’s going to be spectacular.

Possible line-ups

Juventus (ITA) : Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Barzagli, Evra; Marchisio, Pirlo, Pogba; Vidal; Tévez, Morata.

Doubtful: Barzagli (thigh)

Out: Chiellini (calf), Cáceres (ankle), Asamoah* (knee), Rômulo* (thigh)

*Removed from the list in January

Full 22-man squad for Berlin (named Thursday)

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon, Marco Storari, Rubinho

Defenders: Angelo Ogbonna, Andrea Barzagli, Paolo De Ceglie, Leonardo Bonucci, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Patrice Evra

Midfielders: Paul Pogba, Simone Pepe, Claudio Marchisio, Simone Padoin, Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal, Stefano Sturaro, Roberto Pereyra

Forwards: Álvaro Morata, Carlos Tévez, Kingsley Coman, Fernando Llorente, Alessandro Matri

Team news

Giorgio Chiellini

The centre-back has been ruled out due to a calf injury sustained in training on Wednesday. The 30-year-old underwent a scan on Thursday which showed up a first-grade tear.

Andrea Barzagli

Barzagli has not played since suffering a thigh strain against SSC Napoli on 23 May but returned to regular training on Wednesday and was named in the squad on Thursday. He remains doubtful, though Chiellini’s absence means he is very likely to start if fit and he did train on Friday at the Olympiastadion.

Paul Pogba

Injured his ankle on 18 March and only returned on 9 May. He has since played a total of 255 minutes in Serie A and 89 in the Uefa Champions League. “Hopefully he will be at his peak in Berlin,” said Allegri.

Martín Cáceres

The versatile defender has been out since fracturing his ankle in March, at which point he was ruled out for the season.

Álvaro Morata

A second-half substitute in last season’s final, when he helped Real Madrid CF overcome Club Atlético de Madrid, the young forward is expected to start this time around. “I feel in great form physically,” he said.

Roberto Pereyra

He is not expected to start in Berlin, but attacking midfielder Pereyra is certainly among those hitting form. After scoring in Juve’s last two Serie A matches of the season, he will probably be involved.

FC Barcelona (ESP): Ter Stegen; Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suárez, Neymar.

Doubtful: none

Out: none

Team news

Andres Iniesta

The midfielder was taken off in the second half of Saturday’s Copa del Rey final against Athletic Club, but although he missed training on Tuesday, he insisted: “Not playing on Saturday has never crossed my mind.” Should Barcelona triumph, the 31-year-old will join Clarence Seedorf as the only player to have won the Uefa Champions League four times.

Luis Suárez

The Uruguayan missed Barcelona’s final two league matches with a hamstring problem but returned to the starting line-up for the Copa del Rey final and played 78 minutes before being replaced by Pedro Rodríguez, providing the assist for Neymar’s goal. He is in line to play in his first European final.

Xavi Hernández

After 17 years, the midfield metronome is hoping his final outing for Barcelona before he joins al-Sadd SC in Qatar will bring him a 25th piece of silverware with the club. “This one is special because it’s my last game for Barcelona,” he said. “I want to lift that trophy and dedicate it to all of Barcelona.”

Ivan Rakitic

Man of the match as Sevilla FC won the 2014 Uefa Europa League final, this is the Croatian’s first Uefa Champions League decider. “I played in a European final last year, but this is different,” he said. “I will try to not think too much about it and try to prepare as well as possible.”

Lionel Messi

The Argentinian has played all but 23 minutes of Barcelona’s Uefa Champions League campaign and if he scores in Berlin he will become the first player to find the net in three Uefa Champions League finals, having registered in the 2009 and 2011 wins against Manchester United FC.

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