Champions League final: The main talking points

Date published: Friday 2nd June 2017 1:47

Real Madrid and Juventus will meet in the Champions League final at the Principality Stadium on Saturday and we look at where the game could be won or lost.

The Spanish champions have managed to claim Europe’s top prize twice in the last three seasons while Serie A winners Juve are looking to clinch the trophy for the first time in 21 years.

We identify the main talking points ahead of the showdown in Cardiff.

THE IRRESISTIBLE FORCE MEETS THE IMMOVABLE OBJECT

Real Madrid have scored in every single one of their 12 games in the Champions League this season and their 32 goals make them the most prolific attack in the competition while Juventus, the only unbeaten team this season, have conceded just three goals.

Key to Madrid’s success has been the careful management of star striker Cristiano Ronaldo, who despite a slight decrease in overall figures has undeniably enjoyed one of his best campaigns with Los Blancos as Zinedine Zidane has kept him fresh for the big matches.

The likes of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Dani Alves have been rock solid at the back for Juventus but something has to give in Cardiff.

CAN ZZ TOP LALIGA WIN WITH EUROPEAN SUCCESS?

When Zidane guided Real to glory against Atletico Madrid at San Siro last summer, there were critics who said he only deserved partial credit as he had taken over from Rafael Benitez just months earlier.

The former Juve midfielder has since silenced most of his detractors by steering Real to a first LaLiga title since 2012 and he will not only enter an exclusive club if he wins a second Champions League crown, he will become the first coach to ever retain the trophy.

LAST-CHANCE SALOON FOR BUFFON?

Even at 39 Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon still has a few years left in him and he can already boast an almost-complete set of trophies, having won eight Serie A titles, three Italian Cups and in 2006 he was a world champion with Italy.

The former Parma stopper – he won the UEFA Cup with the Gialloblu – has lost the Champions League final on two occasions, in 2003 and 2015. Juve are good enough to get to the summer spectacle again, before Buffon retires, but he may never have a better chance.

THE GREEN, GREEN GRASS OF HOME

When Cardiff’s national stadium of Wales was chosen as the host venue for this year’s showpiece, Real winger Gareth Bale had further incentive to reach his third final. However, a calf injury has threatened to dash what could be the greatest night of the former Tottenham man’s career.

Bale has been named in Zidane’s squad for the final, but he is facing a battle to make the starting line-up. Six weeks on the sidelines has seen his place taken by others, namely Isco who has scored five goals in his last eight matches, and it appears a place on the bench is the best the Welshman can hope for on Saturday.

ALLEGRI TO THE MAX

Antonio Conte’s surprise resignation from Juve in July 2014 left a gaping void in the Bianconeri dugout and many supporters were less than impressed when the board turned to former AC Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri.

Any suspicions about the Tuscan’s suitability for the job have evaporated, though, and he is targeting a treble after winning his sixth and seventh trophies for Juve in May.

Allegri will not discuss his future in Turin until after the final – will the outcome determine his decision?

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