In lieu of the upcoming UEFA Champions League final, Azeem Siddiqui previews five things to watch for in Saturday’s showpiece.
With kick-off of the Champions league final a blink of an eye away, teams and fans are gearing up for what promises to be a special night for football. With a lot at stake in the final as both teams are looking to secure an unprecedented treble this season, we have a list of five things to watch out for on Saturday, at Berlin, when Spanish Champions Barcelona will go head on with Italian Champions Juventus.
First meeting in 12 years
Barcelona will face Juventus al for the first time in 12 years when these two clubs will go head to head in the Champions League final. Last time these two clubs met was in the quarter-final of the Champions League back in 2002/03 season, where the Italian side came on top over the two legs with a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou, that saw them edge pass the Spanish side 2-1 on aggregate. Barcelona and Juventus have previously met nine times in this competition, with Juventus leading the head-to-head with 4 wins, 3 defeats and 2 draws. With both clubs looking to seal the treble, Saturday’s final is surely going to be a spectacle to behold.
Another Messi master-class?
Juventus goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon, who is a legend on his own, so aptly put when he mused: “Messi is an alien, who plays with humans”. Messi is in sublime form this season in which he already netted 58 times in all competitions. Whenever Barcelona are found wanting more, Messi often stands up to deliver the goods. He single-handedly destroyed German champions Bayern Munich in the first-leg of the semi–final of the Champions League this season, and soon after scored most probably the goal of the year in the Copa Del Rey final against Athletico Bilbao. While Buffon’s claims clearly show a mark of respect, Allegri’s men will have to come up with the best performances in their careers to stop a player like Messi in his prime.
The emergence of Paul Pogba
Paul Pogba, probably the highest rated young central midfielder in Europe, will be playing the biggest match of his career. He is being heavily tipped to leave Turin and join other elite European clubs after this season, including Barcelona, which means this could be his last match for the black and white. His performances are right up there with the best in the business, but to be called a great, you have to stand up in the matches like this. So it’s time for Pogba to shine, and there is no better time to deliver in on the pitch, on the biggest stage of all.
Fitting finale for the two football legends
Two of the best midfielder’s the world has ever seen, are going to play in their final Champions league match, and more fittingly that too is the Champions League final, where both teams are going all in for the treble. Pirlo and Xavi, both have been former world champions, and Champions League champions in their career, and with Xavi having already announced his departure from the Camp Nou, Pirlo, too, is about to follow his footprints and looks like to leave Turin for MLS side New York City FC after Saturday’s final, which means it will be a fitting end to the illustrious career of two of the game’s greatest midfielders.
Suarez vs Evra…
One of the most awaited battles to watch out for in Berlin on Saturday will be when Patrice Evra will have a chance to go up against Suarez, who does not have a fond memories of playing against him in the past. Suarez was involved with the racial abuse incident with Patrice Evra in 2011, in which Suarez was found guilty and was fined with £40,000, culminating in an eight-match suspension. The controversy did not end there as in the following meeting between Liverpool and Manchester United, Suarez refused to shake hands with Evra, which again led to more controversy.
So it remains to be seen how to two will react in each other’s presence. One thing’s for sure, it will probably be a tad awkward…
The article originally appeared on Playingfor90.com