Tonight, we will see two giants of European football face off in Cardiff for the UEFA Champions League final, something that both Real Madrid and Juventus cherish so much. Both sides could lay claim to being the “best’ in Europe, and this game will show who of the two really are the best, but it will not be that simple. Juve and Madrid have been outstanding this season and it will take a huge effort for one of these sides to win, but how can Real Madrid beat the Italian champions? Will they have a game plan, or will they have to rely on the individual brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo?
As mentioned previously in the piece “How Juventus can beat Real Madrid in the Champions League“, Juve will allow Madrid to keep the ball and put pressure onto them. In previous rounds, this has worked for Juventus as they’ve managed to keep out Barcelona and Monaco this way, but Madrid can manipulate this to their own advantage. Barcelona and Monaco used their key attacking players to dictate play (Messi, Silva), Madrid have their two deep-lying playmakers to do this for them. Ronaldo, Benzema and Isco can roam free in the final third whilst Toni Kroos and Luka Modric sit deep and look to pick the Juve lock.
Kroos and Modric can float around the midfield with the ball and create space for the attacking trio whilst Casemiro sits deep and acts as the enforcer of the midfield. With them two roaming around, Juve’s midfield may find it hard to keep track of them and may let them slip through the cracks, but nevertheless, these two hold the key to the game and can be the match winners without even scoring a goal.
Defensively, Madrid are reasonably resolute with Casemiro occasionally dropping in as a third centre back when Marcelo and Carvajal bomb forward to support the attackers. Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane will provide a solid base for Madrid, but they will have to be careful when Dybala is running at them, with Ramos prone to the odd red card every now and again. The central defenders may be a weak link, but the full backs are definitely a strong point in this team, especially Marcelo.
Much like Dani Alves for Juventus, Marcelo will act more like a forward than a defender, providing width to a narrow side. His pace on the counter will prove to be vital in forward moves from Los Blancos, but he will need to be switched on at all times and prevent the opposite full back stealing a march on him when he goes on his forward bursts.
Width is huge in this game but Madrid must not put all their eggs in that basket, especially with the talent they have. Much like the midfield, the forward trio will have enough license to roam free. Isco, Ronaldo and Benzema may be a group that Juve’s defence can deal with, but with fast flowing movement, quick, intricate passing and runs in behind can be what Madrid need to take home the trophy. Cristiano Ronaldo has the ability to change the game at any moment and with Isco in the form of his life and Benzema remaining consistent, Madrid have the attacking players to win anything but will need to be on top, top form to beat this Juventus defence.
This game is almost impossible to predict. These two teams are fantastic and have world class players across the pitch, but both teams can pick the flaws out of one another and will capitalise at any given moment. Kroos and Modric hold the key to success for Madrid, but in a Champions League final, you just never know what Real Madrid can pull out of their bag of tricks.