Barca v Juve: A Preview of the Champions League Final (Part II)

Champions League final: Barca vs Juve

It is hard to imagine that any team can handle the best forward line in the world, though Juventus arguably have the best defence around at the moment.

The best attacking line will meet one of the best defences to wrap up this year’s Champions League in a properly fitting battle. The two sides prefer to play in rather similar styles, however, Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri tends to completely alter his game plan for matches featuring opponents considered as stronger sides than his team. Therefore it might turn out as a classic showdown between a possession based, attacking outfit and a defending, counterattacking side.

• Barca to overload the flanks
• Juve need a master plan
• A two-goal margin is likely

Still, Juventus might try to upset Barcelona with different tactical elements they already performed in the quarterfinals against Real Madrid. Whether it will bring success for them or not, this would be an incredibly interesting battle not just for those who follow the game in Europe, but for the audience in the United States as well. Though US gambling laws vary from state to state, those who live in a place with legalized betting, it would be an outstanding opportunity to wagering on the biggest game in club football at any online sportsbook.

Juve to have a spare man at the back

Luis Enrique will be able to field his strongest team with Marc-Andre ter Stegen in goal, Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano and Jordi Alba in defence, Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta in midfield, and the terrific attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar up front. They will play their usual game with slight adjustments probably, and they would enjoy the most of the possession, trying to find a way through the Italians’ defence.

That won’t be very easy as Allegri might field his team in his favourite 4-4-2 formation with a midfield diamond. Gianluigi Buffon will be stand in goal with Stephane Lichtsteiner, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Patrice Evra forming the backline. Andrea Prilo will occupy his usual place in front of the defence with Claudio Marchisio and Paul Pogba flanking him. The tip of the diamond will be arguably the top asset of Juventus, Arturo Vidal, with Carlos Tevez and Alvaro Morata playing up front.

Juve 2015 Squad
Though anyone who bet on sports in the EU should note that injuries can still occur until the game kicks off, any modification for tactical reasons would be something of a surprise. There is a possibility for Juve to line-up in a 3-5-2 though, involving Andrea Barzagli, who is not fully fit, instead of Marchisio, but it is more likely that Allegri will keep it for a plan B, and will switch to that during the game if needed.

This would mean that Juventus have a spare man at the back and in midfield as well, while their forwards can play one-on-one against Pique and Mascherano. However, with Busquets dropping back in possession, and with the full backs becoming de facto wing-backs, the field alters and Barca might try to overload the flanks with things becoming too crowded in the middle.

Barca should outflank the narrow Italians

All members in the forward line of La Blaugrana are comfortable on the wings, with Messi demonstrating the danger he poses cutting in from the side most recently against Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Copa del Rey. With support from the full backs and the attacking midfielders, they can enjoy a man advantage when trying to outflank the opponent. Therefore it would be reasonable for Allegri to consider the 3-5-2, as the trio of a central defender, a wing-back and a central midfielder would equal the attackers in numbers on either side of the field.

Still, it is hard to imagine that Allegri would risk playing the backline one-on-one against Messi, Suarez and Neymar. He applied the formula against Real Madrid successfully, but that is a different story. Guardiola tried the same against Barca with Bayern Munich at the Camp Nou, only to revert to a more conservative four-man backline just fifteen minutes into the game. The hosts could have been ahead by three easily then, had they converted their chances.

Barca 2015 squad
With midfielders and forwards capable of pressing, Juve might try to confuse Barca when the Catalans just regained possession, starting to build up a long chain off passes. With that, Juventus would expose a big space in front of or behind their defence – depending on whether Chiellini and co. will push up their line or not – which is risky to maintain for 90 minutes against attackers so skilled and quick as the ones Barcelona have. Therefore it is expected that Juventus will only press in certain periods and/or situations of the game like catching a Barca midfielder with the ball faces his own goal or towards the sideline.

The same goes for possession. Juventus are clearly capable of playing possession football, occupying the half of the opponent. However, facing a team fielding players with better in pressing and passing too, they might keep the ball only for certain periods of the game, as they did against Real Madrid. In the meantime, they should try to be dangerous on the break, forcing Pique to race Tevez in a virtually empty half. This pattern is well known for us, and it usually ends with Barcelona celebrating a victory, however it brought success for Juve recently.

With the best forward line in the world supported by the most confident and effective passing game around, Barcelona are strong favourites to win the Champions League at online sportsbooks in the EU. Juventus have the potential to make an upset, though they have to come up with a master plan to achieve that, as the difference in quality indicates a two-goal Barcelona victory.

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