Lionel Messi could be the first player to score a goal in three Champions League finals, as Luis Suarez prepares to meet his former victims.
Barcelona is expected to secure the fifth Champions League title in club history to equal the record of Bayern Munich and Liverpool. Many of their players been there, done that, but not just experience is on their side, as the team is on a roll that last was seen in a time when Pep Guardiola was managing the side. And they have the best forward line in the game consisting Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, hitting 120 goals together in this season.
They might have a tough task to complete with a very strong Juventus featuring excellent teamwork waiting for them, though the majority of punters wagering at online sportsbooks in the EU still prefers to pick the Catalans as winners. They might be right, as it seems virtually impossible at the moment to stop Luis Enrique’s team. Juventus have to come up with something special to carry out such a stunning achievement.
Serial winners on each side
Barcelona will fight for the fifth European Cup/Champions League victory in club history, while Juventus go for their third title in the Berlin final on Saturday. There are several players looking for their fourth Champions League victory in the Barca squad, however, only Andres Iniesta was featured in the Catalan’s last three finals. Lionel Messi, having scored in both the 2009 and the 2011 showdowns against Manchester United, could become the first player to register a goal in three Champions League finals.
The most decorated player on the other side is Andrea Pirlo, who won the competition twice with AC Milan in 2003 and in 2007. Pirlo will play his last game for Juventus with a possible move to the Major League Soccer in the summer, as gambling news reported that he is agreed a deal with New York City FC. Another legend, Barcelona team captain Xavi is also preparing to end a wonderful career at his club, as he will join Qatari outfit al-Sadd SC after the season. A victory would bring him his 25th title.
Alvaro Morata, who signed for Juventus last summer, was part of Real Madrid’s squad that went all the way in the competition last summer. Achieving a victory on Saturday would make him only the fifth player to win the Champions League in back-to-back seasons. Previously Marcel Desailly (1993-1994, Olympique Marseille, AC Milan), Paolo Sousa (1996-1997, Juventus, Borussia Dortmund), Gerard Pique (2008-2009, Manchester United, Barcelona) and Samuel Eto’o (2009-2010, Barcelona, Internazionale) were able to perform that feature.
Suarez to meet his victims
Luis Suarez will play against two players on Saturday who were both tortured by him in the past. While at Liverpool, he racially abused Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, nevertheless he argued that the language he used is not considered as an offence in his country. It does in the United Kingdom though, and the FA duly handed him an eight-game suspension, with Evra refusing to shake hands with him before their next meeting on the pitch.
Last summer in the group stages of the World Cup, Suarez somehow ended up biting Chiellini when he was supposedly charging for the ball after a cross. The Italy defender was the third meal consumed by the Uruguayan on the football field during his career, having bitten PSV’s Otman Bakkal and Chelsea’s Bane Ivanovic before. As many who bet on sports in the EU might recall, he was handed a four-month long suspension with an additional nine-game ban regarding international matches.
Chiellini made no big deal of it, accepting the apology of Suarez, expressing that he hoped FIFA would reduce the ban. It did not however, preventing the forward to represent his country at the upcoming Copa America in Chile. Suarez avoided sending off when the accidents mentioned above occurred, outside the tasting of Bakkal’s shoulder of course.
Yet, with his track record, provoking him hoping to do something crazy that worth a red card would be an understandable and desperate way for Juve to try to reduce Barca’s attacking power. Though it seems that the Catalans have a more relaxed and disciplined forward now in Suarez. However, as he has never played on the biggest stage of club football, it is unknown yet how he would be able to handle the pressure.
With pretty much everyone being healthy, there won’t be any high-profile absentee this year, like twelve months ago, when Xabi Alonso had to miss the final because of the accumulation of yellow cards. Diego Costa practically missed it too, coming off after eight minutes of play only because of injury. Considering the full squads, Barca are strong favourites to win the title at online sportsbooks, and we will discuss how the game should fold out tactically in the second part of this article.