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Juventus v Real Madrid: Coin-toss final may not be settled inside 90 minutes

Will Cristiano Ronaldo be able to plot a course through the solid Juventus defence?
Will Cristiano Ronaldo be able to plot a course through the solid Juventus defence?

Jack Lang expects a close battle between the Old Lady and Los Merengues in Saturday night's Champions League final in Cardiff...


"Juve are unbeaten in the Champions League this term and there is a battle-hardened quality to Allegri's side that should counteract Real's big-game experience"

Juventus v Real Madrid
Saturday, 19:45
Live on BT Sport Showcase


Juventus

Dominant domestically over the last six seasons (six league titles and three Coppa Italia successes), Juventus now feel that their time has finally come in Europe. Yes, they made the final against Barcelona two seasons ago, but that team was still very much a work in progress, whereas now there is the feeling that they head to Cardiff on an even footing with their illustrious opponents.

Max Allegri deserves huge credit for that, and for sculpting a side that has been both durable and deadly in the competition so far. The defence and Gigi Buffon - who will be more desperate than most to claim a Champions League winner's medal - have deservedly received plenty of plaudits, but Juve's attack is also varied and well-grooved, making them a very rounded outfit.

The big decision for Allegri on Saturday is whether to start with a back three or a back four. If it's the former, Andrea Barzagli will slot in alongside old colleagues Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini. If it's the latter, Juan Cuadrado will likely come in. The Old Lady have also been boosted by the return of Sami Khedira, who limped out of the semi-final win over Monaco.


Real Madrid

The European Cup and Real Madrid. Real Madrid and the European Cup. It's a dance as old as time itself - and one that shows no sign of losing any of its potency any time soon. This is a third final in four years (and 15th in total) for Los Merengues, who last lost at this stage way back in 1981 and have happy memories of facing Juventus: they beat the Italian giants in the 1998 final.

Zinedine Zidane played for Juve in that match, but now lines up against them for the first time as a manager. Indeed, it's easy to forget just how new the Frenchman is to this coaching lark given the rapidly-growing 'Honours' section on his CV: since entering the dugout 17 months ago, he has won the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup, the Club World Cup and La Liga. You cannot argue with that.

This season, Real took some time to find their rhythm. But they have been commanding in recent months, not least in swatting aside Atlético Madrid to book their place at the Millennium Stadium. One of the key performers in that tie was Isco, who looks likely to edge out hometown hero Gareth Bale in the only real selection dilemma troubling Zidane.


Match Odds

Madrid are 2.767/4 favourites to win in 90 minutes and become the first team to retain the European Cup. Their pedigree is obvious and, from a tactical point of view, there's a good chance that their midfield three - Toni Kroos, Casemiro, Luka Modric - will have the better of the battle with Juventus' two-man engine room. That was certainly the key tussle in the win over Atleti.

Juve, though, have the tools to make this a real game. They are unbeaten in the Champions League this term (W9 D3) and have conceded just three goals in that run - a fine effort given they faced Monaco twice and Barcelona twice. There is a battle-hardened quality to Allegri's side that should counteract Real's big-game experience, so the 3.052/1 on the Juventus win and the especially 3.1511/5 available for the draw in 90 minutes both look like attractive options.


Winner

The market for the winner (be it in 90 minutes, after extra time or on penalties) is close to an even split: Madrid are 1.9620/21 and Juve 2.0421/20. If you wish to back one of the sides, this is a safer option than the Match Odds market, given that three of the last five finals have not been decided in normal time.


Over/Under 2.5 Goals

The first thing to note here is that Madrid always score: they last failed to do so in April 2016, fully 65 competitive matches ago. But their defence is also generous to opponents - they've only kept one clean sheet in this competition this term - meaning it is hard not to see Juventus having some joy on the night.

That would lead us towards the overs at 2.466/4, but Juve's frugality at the back gives us pause for thought. They successfully stifled Barça and Monaco, and could adopt a fairly cautious approach in an attempt to do the same here. The better option is probably Both Teams to Score at 2.01/1, with 1-1 an attractive Correct Score proposition at 6.86/1.


To Score

It's not every day that you can back Cristiano Ronaldo to score at outside evens. The Portuguese forward has ten goals to his name in the competition so far - the sixth successive season he's got into double figures - and has scored 14 times in his last nine matches. 2.588/5 looks well worth taking on, even against a superb defence. If you fancy Ronaldo to score first, Betfair Sportsbook are offering a big enhanced price of 5/1 (max bet £50, T&Cs apply).


Recommended Bets

Back the FT draw at 3.1511/5
Back Cristiano Ronaldo to score at 2.588/5


Jack Lang's Champions League P/L, 2016/17

Staked: 20pts
Returned: 11.71pts
P/L: -8.29pts

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