Juventus face Barcelona in the Final of the Champions League in Berlin on Saturday night after eliminating reigning Champions Real Madrid in the semi-final.
A 1-1 draw in the second leg proved sufficient to end Real?s hopes of becoming the first team to successfully defend the Cup. It has already had repercussions with Carlo Ancelotti having been swiftly replaced by Rafael Benitez at the Bernabeu, their thirteenth new manager in twelve seasons.
The Italians will once again be underdogs as they meet the side widely acclaimed as the best in the world at present. The Spanish giants were never seriously troubled in disposing of Bayern Munich 5-3 on aggregate to ease into the final.
Luis Enrique has managed to successfully harness the attacking trio of Neymar, Suarez and Messi, something that many pundits doubted would be possible. There were fears of a clash of egos with a battle for a regular starting place. Enrique has managed to combine all of their talents in a strike force that is the envy of world football.
Barcelona only blip in qualifying was a 3-2 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in their second Group F match. The return of Suarez following his ban incurred at the World Cup seem to galvanize Barcelona as the Uruguayan scored in the final two group games. Suarez has also contributed 23 assists this season and the gamble in signing the controversial striker has clearly paid off handsomely.
Juventus had not made the semi-finals of the competition for 12 years prior to their brave victory over Real Madrid. They qualified in second place behind Atletico Madrid with only seven goals but they are playing in the true Italian style in the latter stages of the competition. They are difficult to break down and have danger men in Tevez and Morata.
Alvaro Morata, a former Real Madrid player, scored the vital equalizer in the 1-1 draw with Real and must not be underestimated by Barcelona. Juventus are expected to try to contain the Catalans but face a late fitness concern over Andrea Barzagli. Juve have not conceded a goal in over three hours with the veteran in the side in this season?s competition and he would be sorely missed.
Barcelona have led by half-time in all but two of their Champions League fixtures this season. If they can break through early on, it could be a very long night for Juventus and their supporters. The match kicks off at 7.45 and will be broadcast live by many of the major TV networks.