After watching Juventus eliminate Real Madrid without much turbulence, you are doubtless kicking yourself for not backing them to win the Champions League at 9.6 after the semi-final draw, or 15.5 before the quarter-final pairings were announced, or even further back when they traded at 75.0.
However, instead of mourning those missed opportunities, your priority should be making sure that you don’t repeat the error, with the Old Lady still an attractive price to back at [3.55] given that there is just one team left to conquer. Here’s why they should be fancied…
Allegri has beaten Barcelona with less
Not only has Massimiliano Allegri defeated Barcelona before, he earned a 2-0 victory two seasons ago with this AC Milan XI: Christian Abbiati; Kevin Constant, Philippe Mexes, Cristian Zapata, Ignazio Abate; Massimo Ambrosini, Riccardo Montolivo, Sulley Muntari; Stephan El Shaarawy, Giampaolo Pazzini, Kevin-Prince Boateng.
None of those players would get in a Juventus team packed with stars from Gianluigi Buffon to Giorgio Chiellini to Paul Pogba to Carlos Tevez, not to mention Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Alvaro Morata. Indeed, several wouldn’t even be worthy of a spot in the squad. Allegri never had much joy at Camp Nou, besides a draw in 2011, but is unbeaten in three against them away from Catalonia.
He also has a decent handle on how to resist Lionel Messi because at one stage his Rossoneri side stopped the Argentine from scoring in open play in five straight meetings – two of them in Spain.
At the very least, a Cash Out window beckons
The previous three Champions League finals had clear favourites, but there was nothing routine about any of the actual encounters. Chelsea soaked up heaps of pressure at the Allianz Arena to take the 2011/12 to a penalty shootout and ultimately lift the trophy in Bayern Munich’s backyard.
Borussia Dortmund were minutes away from taking their domestic foes to extra time in 2012/13, only for Arjen Robben to snatch an 89th-minute winner, and Atletico Madrid led Real Madrid from minutes 36 to 93 at Lisbon’s Estadio da Luz last May.
It is worth emphasising that Barcelona have been defeated twice in this season’s Champions League – at Paris St-Germain in the group stage and on their latest trip to Germany to face Bayern Munich – while Juventus have gone nine fixtures without a loss, conceding just three times in the last eight.
There is plenty for the omen fans
The most recent five Spain v Italy finals saw the nations take turns to triumph. Real Madrid denied AC Milan in 1957/58, Inter outshined Real in 1963/64, Barcelona edged Sampdoria in 1991/92, AC Milan thrashed Barcelona in 1993/94 and Real beat Juventus in 1997/98, so it is Serie A’s turn.
Though Italy have supplied a disappointing two finalists in the past nine years, both prevailed: AC Milan seeing off Liverpool in 2006/07 and Inter sinking Bayern Munich in 2009/10. Then of course you have the subplot of Berlin’s Olympiastadion being the stage of Buffon and Pirlo’s career highlight – their World Cup 2006 final success.