Juventus v Barcelona
Live on ITV1 and Sky Sports 1
Juventus were the stand out team in Serie A this season, winning the Scudetto by a huge 17-point margin and suffering just three defeats all season. In addition to this, they’re also one game away from a first-ever treble having won the Coppa Italia with a 2-1 win over Lazio a fortnight ago.
The Bianconieri’s path to the Champions League final has also been an impressive one – beating Borussia Dortmund, Monaco and Real Madrid on their way to the showpiece event at the Olympiastadion, Max Allegri’s men can take confidence in a win over holders Madrid across two legs especially and should not be daunted by the task in front of them. Other teams have provided a blueprint for beating Barcelona, and Juve are more than capable of giving themselves a chance.
Bad news for the Italians comes in the shape of a reported injury to talismanic defender Giorgio Chiellini who appears to have a calf problem, and he and Martin Cáceres will definitely miss out.
There’s not much than can be said about this Barcelona side that hasn’t already been said 100 times over. Luis Enrique’s team are the standout team in Europe, are also gunning for a treble after league and cup wins, and the former Barcelona player has taken the foundations set by Frank Rijkaard, Pep Guardiola, Tito Vilanova and Tata Martino and created something even better, more versatile and more effective.
Adding a counter-attacking quality to the possession-based style they were previously known for, this team appear to have more arrows in their quiver, more ways to hurt the opposition, more ways to win. And with a front three that have scored well in excess of 100 goals between them this season, they are never short of attacking intent and movement.
Barca have defeated Manchester City, PSG and Bayern Munich in the knockout phase and are in great shape to lift their fifth European Cup/Champions League in Berlin on Saturday night. They also have a full squad to choose from with no injuries reported.
It’s a measure of how highly rated this Barcelona team are that Juventus, a team that have had one of the greatest seasons in their history already and have lost five games all season in all competitions, are a colossal [6.2] to win this tie inside 90 minutes. Barca sit at a slim-looking [1.63], with The Draw out at [4.2].
As crazy as this may sound given how good the Spaniards are, I actually think Juve have to be the value here. Other sides have beaten Barca this season, sides inferior to Juventus, and I cannot for the life of me see why a Champions League final team who have dispatched Real Madrid in the semi are such a long price over 90 minutes, even if Enrique’s charges are clearly a great team.
The alternative to a big, punchy bet on Juventus to win inside 90 minutes is the Double Chance market. By opting for Home or Draw at [2.56] here (which I also think is a very generous price), we can take two results – a Juve win and a stalemate. It essentially insures us by getting the draw onside and is another way of laying Barcelona at [1.63].
Shown A Card?
This market is an obvious one to look at in a type of game that involves a tricky, possession-based, quick team like Barcelona and a group of defenders that aren’t averse to employing the dark arts when necessary. Patrice Evra springs to mind as a potential addition to the referee’s book – against that front three of Barcelona’s, it’s easy to imagine him having a tricky night. [3.5] or better on the Frenchman is worth a bet.
In fact, I wouldn’t put you off a small interest on all the defenders that line up for Juve on the night, and possibly even the more tenacious midfielders like Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba, too. And as my colleague Michael Cox says, Stephane Lichsteiner can also be a card magnet.
Back Home or Draw in Double Chance market at [2.56]Back Patrice Evra in Shown a Card? market at [3.5] or better