What do you expect from Juventus?
I expect Juventus to focus on remaining compact and solid.
It’s near impossible to match Barcelona man for man in Berlin on Saturday.
We can’t make the same mistake as Bayern Munich did in the semi-final first leg, which they lost 3-0.
Coach Massimiliano Allegri will field four at the back rather than three – Stephan Lichsteiner, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Patrice Evra – like he did in the semi-final matches against Real Madrid.
The game plan will be identical to that tie with the other Spanish giants.
With Carlos Tevez and Alvaro Morata, the quality and speed is there to punish Barcelona on the counter-attack.
I expect Andrea Pirlo to have the space to operate. Usually, the opposition place a forward to man-mark and pressure Andrea.
But I can’t see Neymar, Luis Suarez or Lionel Messi doing that for 90 minutes. They are divas, therefore look to go forward rather than track back all the time.
A couple of balls over the top from the Italian maestro into Morata or Tevez is what I’m hoping for. It could be the key if Juve are to upset the favourites.
Who do you fear most from Barcelona?
I fear Messi. Watching him score that sensational goal in the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao last week is more than enough.
The MSN trio – Messi, Suarez and Neymar – will be a handful. They have registered 120 goals between them this season; just astonishing.
On a very good day, you may be able to keep one or two of them quiet – but not all three!
Juventus must stop the players providing the service into them. Which isn’t an easy task, either.
I agree with Allegri’s comments on Messi. “Man-to-man marking of Messi while he’s on the move is practically impossible,” he said. “We need to have conviction and anticipate his moves.”
What will be the key battles?
There will be fierce battles all over the field. I’ve picked several that stand out —
Javier Mascherano v Tevez will be an interesting battle to watch: The two international and former club team-mates, at West Ham United, will put their friendship to one side and look to dominate.
Buffon v Messi: Arguably the greatest goalkeeper up against the greatest player of all time. It’s going to be fascinating to watch. That’s what the Champions League is all about.
Xavi v Pirlo: Whether Xavi plays from the start or not, I’m sure he will feature at some point in his last game for Barcelona.
What a privilege it would be to watch two of the greatest passers of the ball up against each other. These types of midfielders are a dying breed.
How do the Italian press view this final?
Clearly, Barcelona are the favourites.
The Press and general public appreciate that Juventus are a very well-organised side and if anybody can ruffle Barca’s feathers, they can.
We’ve seen many underdogs win in a European final. Why not the Italian giants?
Juve have won the Italian double this season so, whatever the outcome of this final, the side have had an outstanding campaign.
Let’s not forget that the majority of the fans weren’t behind Allegri to begin with, after he replaced the favoured Antonio Conte.
Stones were thrown at his car on his first day at the club.
Therefore, he deserves a significant amount of credit for how he has developed this great team.
2-2: Juve win on penalties.
Written by Serie A Writer
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HEADS UP: Below are the answers to last week’s Europa League crossword.