The wait is almost over

The road is almost over.  Well at least it is for one fan.  A Juventus fan pledged to walk all the way from Turin to Berlin if his team makes it to the final.  Well, Nicolo De Marchi is making this walk.  He just finished his walk this morning.  Check out pictures from his walk on the Juventus twitter handle.  The club will give him a ticket if he makes it.  For the rest of us, we just have to wait one more day for the biggest game of the season.  The Champions League final is set and the teams have arrived.  Now we just need to find out which team makes history.  Juventus have reached their eighth final and won the competition twice before.  Barcelona is also playing in their eighth final and has won it 4 times.  This is the most anticipated match of the season and the winner will not only get the Trophy with the big ears, they will be part of history as they will be a treble winning side.

Juventus comes into this match having won 7, drawn 3, and lost 2 games in this competition this year.  They played in a group with Malmo, Atletico Madrid, and Olympiakos.  During the group stage, they won 3 games (Malmo, Olympiakos, and at Malmo), they drew at home to Atletico Madrid and lost on the road at Atletico Madrid and Olympiakos.  In the round of 16, they defeated Dortmund 2-1 at home and then 3-0 on the road.  In the quarterfinals, they beat Monaco 1-0 at home and then drew 0-0 in Monaco.  In the semifinals, they drew with defending champions Real Madrid.  Juve were successful in the home leg winning 2-1 and then drew 1-1 in Madrid to advance to the final.  The average 1.33 goals per match and conceded on average 0.58 goals.  They have kept a clean sheet 50% of the time.

The team news for Juventus is where there is some concern.  Veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini will miss the game due to a calf injury.  Many of you may remember his name from the Luis Suarez biting incident in the World Cup.  Well I guess that is one storyline the world will miss out on.  His replacement is believed to be Andrea Barzagli.  However, Barzagli has not played since May 23 when he suffered a thigh strain against Napoli.  If he cannot go, then it would likely be Angelo Ogbonna.  The team shape will most likely be a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield consisting of Marchisio, Pirlo, Pogba, and Vidal.  This has to be one of the best midfields of all time.  The strikers will be Tevez and Morata.  Morata will be playing in his second straight Champions League final.  The back four will be Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Barzagli, and Evra.  In goal will be the club legend and generational defining goalkeeper, Gigi Buffon.  It will be up to him to keep Barcelona off the score sheet.  The 37 year old is looking to add one of the few trophies that have evaded him.

Barcelona comes into this match having won 10, drawn 0 and lost 2 games.  The group stage consisted of PSG, APOEL, and Ajax.  In the group stage Barcelona suffered their first defeat when they lost 3 to 2 Paris Saint Germain.  They won the rest of their games and the group.  In the Round of 16, they face Manchester City and defeated them 2-1 on the road and 1-0 at home.  Then they faced they only team to beat them at that point in the time, PSG.  They would go on to win the first leg in Paris 3-1 and then the second 2-0.  In the semifinals, Barcelona faced former coach Pep Guaridola and his new club Bayern Munich.  The first leg ended 3-0 in Barcelona.  The second leg was essentially meaningless, but was Barcelona’s second defeat in the competition as they lost 3-2.  They advanced to the final winning 5-3 on aggregate.  They averaged 2.33 goals per match while they conceded 0.83 goals per match. They also kept a clean sheet 50% of the time.

The team news for Barcelona is pretty straight forward.  There is some concern over Iniesta, but all reports out of Spain say that he will play.  Iniesta is looking to become the first player to play in and win the UEFA Champions League four times.  Luis Suarez also missed some time recently but returned for the Copa Del Rey final and provided an assist to Neymar.  Xavi hopes to play in what will be his final game for the club.  The lineup should be Ter Stegen in goal.  He has been the goalkeeper for the whole competition. Alves, Pique, Mascherano, and Alba in the back 4.  The midfield three will be Iniesta, Busquets, and Rakitic.  Rakitic is the first Croatian to play in the UEFA Champions League final.  The front three will be MSN or Messi, Suarez, and Neymar.  Messi is looking to become the first player to score in three finals.

This should be a fantastic match and I am really looking forward to tomorrow for a great 90 minutes of football.

The game is set to kick off at 2:45 EST and is going to be on FOX.  Enjoy!!


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