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Graeme Le Saux on the Champions League Final: Big game experience can take Real to glory

Will Ronaldo point the way to another Champions League win?
Will Ronaldo point the way to another Champions League win?

Betfair Ambassador Graeme Le Saux previews Saturday evening's Champions League final where Real Madrid, chasing a 12th European Cup win, are marginal favourites to get the better of Juventus in a mouthwatering finale to the season....

"The advantage Real Madrid have over anyone is unrivalled big-game experience. All those players have appeared in games of the highest pressure, including last year's Champions League final of course. That is not to downplay Juventus, but looking at it coldly I just think that gives them the edge."

By the time you get to the final of a competition this good, you know that both teams are of the highest quality and this year's Champions League final is a genuine battle between Europe's finest two clubs.

Both teams have had to overcome all sorts of different opposition in contrasting environments and they have passed the test each and every time.

They are not there through luck.

In Juventus and Real Madrid we have the two outstanding teams of the tournament and they should serve up a final worthy of this great tournament.

The betting suggests we are in for a close match and I am in agreement.


Juve are more than an amazing defence


Juventus have just landed a domestic double, and their title win was their sixth in a row. To establish that level of consistency is an admirable thing. They may be slight underdogs, but they have a winning mentality and are well capable of adding the Champions League to their trophy haul.

Max Allegri's side's success has been built on a watertight defence that has conceded just three goals in the entire competition.

That experienced unit brings a serenity to the team. They allow the opposition the ball but they always look comfortable and in control. They're a tight unit where each member knows what his colleague is doing. They just give each other that knowing look. They are doing their jobs.

Juve are happy to concede possession and allow the opposition to do all the work. A bit like a boxer on the ropes they are content to soak up the punches while waiting for the opportunity to counter. They don't make mistakes, and they don't give you free hits.

It is a tremendous base for the quality they have in the middle and in attack.

And we have to remember that it's not just about the Juve defence, they have real talent in attack too. I love watching Paulo Dybala play the game. The Argentine forward has had big moments right across the tournament and brings that star ingredient to the Juve team.


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Will Buffon finally win a Champions League trophy?


So much star quality to this Real unit


But if anyone can break Juventus down it is Real Madrid. They are ferocious going forward - incredibly they have scored in their last 65 encounters.

Obviously, they have a one man goal machine in Cristiano Ronaldo (available to back at an enhanced 5/1 to score first on the Betfair Sportsbook) but the quality of the players around him is exceptional.

One man I want to single out is Luka Modric, who just seems to get better and better. Gareth Bale's departure from Spurs is the one everyone talks about but I think Modric was just as influential. He is that good.

Every team is striving for a man to play the Modric role. His position - central midfield schemer, creator and possession specialist - is so competitive and there are some fantastic players out there. But Modric does it for one of the very best clubs in the world, and he has held that position down for years now. He's world-class.


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Modric - the little master in the Madrid midfield


You can't talk about Real without mentioning their main man, Ronaldo.

Real's no.7 commands the opposition's attention on the pitch and that is such a weapon as it is a huge distraction for the opposing side. As soon as he gets the ball players are drawn to him and that creates space for the rest of Real's attackers. And we know how good they are.

Ronaldo's timing, his awareness of space is unrivalled. He arrives at the right place at the right time. It's something that can go unnoticed as it's hard to measure, but it's a real skill.

The only player I can compare him to from my career is Alan Shearer. When I played with Alan there were times when he got the ball in a certain position and I almost turned round and went back to my position because I knew he'd score.

And the same is true of Ronaldo of course.


Extra big game experience - just - makes Real my selection


Without wishing to sound clichéd, the first goal is vital. If Juve get it they will have something to hang onto and the defence will have something to work with. I think the Italian's best chances will come from set pieces so watch them closely at free kicks and corners.

But if Real score first Juve will be forced to come forward and take risks. It's beautifully poised.

The advantage Real Madrid have over anyone is unrivalled big-game experience. All those players have appeared in games of the highest pressure, including last year's Champions League final of course.

That is not to downplay Juventus, but looking at it coldly I just think that gives them the edge.

Both sides are studded with exceptional talent but Real Madrid stars shine that little bit brighter and I can see Juventus succumbing to that quality.


Recommended Bet
Back Real Madrid to win the Champions League @ 1.9620/21


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