Who will win and why?
Rishay: Real Madrid are the heavy favourites, and favourites to retain the CL for the first time in the re-branded competition’s history. The story is only fitting. Putting away all those years of Barcelona’s dominance with 3 wins in 4 years would be a remarkable achievement. Juventus are the neutrals’ favourite, and their time should supposedly arrive at some point. It is their second final since 2015, where they lost to Barcelona. Juventus ended their season on an indifferent note, while Madrid played some amazing football and look the better of the two. It is very much a case of attacking v. defending, but Madrid will be the dominant force. Madrid for me.
Alex: It’s so hard not to say Real Madrid but I’m going with Juventus. Rahul Kalvapalle brought up a great point on our latest podcast which is that a lot of these Madrid players have already won the CL or are young enough that they will get other chances. For many of the Juve team, this is it. This is likely their final chance. That could manifest itself in pressure, or desire. If it’s the latter, I think Juventus will prevail. As Dani Alves recently said: “When the whistle blows, we simply find a way to win no matter what. Winning is not just a goal at Juve, it’s like an obsession. There are no excuses.”
Mohaned: I think Juventus will have the better game and keep possession, but Madrid will do what Madrid do and score a killer goal against the run of play. Whether it be Ronaldo, to cement his Ballon’ D’or, or one of the regular saviors in Marcelo and Ramos. I feel Madrid have this killer mentality that no other team in world football have and they’ve had it for 3 seasons now. They score the goal. At the end of the day that’s whats going to matter. Madrid win to secure the first ever back-to-back CL.
How important will Higuain be against his former club?
Alex: He’s had a magnificent season, but the tag of ‘big game bottler’ still hangs heavy around his neck. I think he’s developed the mental side of his game quite significantly under Allegri though, so I’d not be surprised if he scored. That said, Juve’s attacking options are such that if he does struggle, Dybala or Mandzukic can chime in. If Higuain simply makes space for them to score, he’s played a large part.
Rishay: Instrumental in any and every opportunity Juventus will have against the Galacticos. He has been remarkably consistent all season and there is no chance he can fade away in this game. Coming up against old friends and foes will be a mental challenge, but he might’ve learned a thing or two while in Italy. So far, his 94 million euros has easily been repaid. If Juventus are to challenge in this match, Higuain will be the fulcrum of their attacks.
Mohaned: He will need to have his finishing boots on. Juventus wont get many clear cut chances and he must make them count. Unfortunately if Higuain isn’t Scoring, he isn’t doing much else. So he is important but not as much as someone like Dybala for Juventus who will pull the strings and be the creative outlet. He’s crucial.
If Real Madrid win, is Zidane the best manager in the world at the moment?
Mohaned: Yes. You can’t take that away from him. You just can’t. “He has amazing players”. Oh yeah, the ones that haven’t won La Liga in 5 years? Look, he was destined to fail. Inexperienced, dealing with player egos as well as the mentally unstable Perez, Zidane has come out of this like no one has expected. A win this weekend and he has a league and 2 CL titles in 3 years. WHAT! Yet some won’t name him among the best. I’m sorry, what exactly is he supposed to do? This season he has shown tactical flexibility and used his squad ever so smartly. Just the way he handled Isco’s situation from not playing a minute to ending the season as their best player, shows maturity beyond his experience. Well done Zizou.
Alex: He’s done brilliantly, but no. I don’t think you can have those kinds of discussions without seeing a manager in more than one context. “What about Guardiola at Barcelona?”, Bernie will ask me. The difference there is that he raised the level ten-fold. We saw football from another planet. Zidane has improved Real Madrid by doing things other coaches have simply not been given the freedom to do, but we don’t have the evidence for “best manager in the world”, despite the trophies. Allegri, though. He may be a real contender.
Rishay: At the moment? I could’ve sworn that for a 5 min spell not too long ago, I too, was the best manager in the world, amongst other things. He’s definitely exceeded expectations but we still don’t know much about him after all these years. He can definitely be the most mysterious manager in the world, and for that matter, the most mysterious man in the world.