The Champions League final is just days away and you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a foregone conclusion. In the eyes of many, Barca already seem to have one hand on the biggest trophy in club football.
With some bookies, including Skybet, Paddy Power, 32Red, and a few others, Juventus can be backed as big as 5-1 to win the game in 90 minutes. Those are pretty generous odds for a team that is notoriously hard to beat and always seems to do whatever it takes to get a result. And when you consider that some of the bookies, notably 32red.com, include some pretty generous signing on bonuses – it may well be a fun punt for a free bet.
True, Barcelona will play the more free-flowing, attractive football that so many teams find impossible to cope with. And they have up front a formidable three-way strike force in the shape of Suarez, Messi and Neymar. But Juventus can boast a couple of match-turners of their own – most notably Carlos Tevez, of course, but also the tremendously capable Alvaro Morata.
So Barca may not have it all their own way and history suggests the match will be far closer than some might expect.
In the all-time head-to-head stats between these two giants of European football, the score stands at four wins to three in favour of Juventus with two draws. The all-time goals tally is 13-12 in Barcelona’s favour.
But the two sides haven’t faced each other for over a decade. In fact, the last time they played was back in 2003 when they faced off twice in the Champions League. That time, the score was 1-1 in both games after normal time, with Juventus winning after extra time.
Can Juventus upset the odds?
Both clubs have appeared on seven occasions in the European Cup or Champions League finals, with Barcelona winning four of theirs whilst Juventus have won two.
So perhaps the stats are too out-dated to tell us much about Saturday’s big clash? Perhaps, too, the more relevant stats are the more recent ones like the fact that Lionel Messi is the all-time Champions League’s top scorer with an incredible 77 goals from 98 games for Barcelona since 2005.
On the other hand, Juventus have conceded just seven goals in their entire 2014-15 Champions League campaign and they will prove far harder to unlock than most of Barcelona’s previous opponents. They have only lost twice so far in the entire campaign, and have got steadily stronger as they proved in the semi-finals when overcoming holders Real Madrid.
So we can expect style and panache from Barcelona versus sheer doggedness from a Juventus side that will be more intent on staying in the game than trying to grab it by the scruff of the neck. We can also expect a domination of possession from the Catalan side – and a whole lot of gamesmanship from the Italians.
If the stats are anything to go by – the draw over 90 minutes is perhaps the best value bet – with 1-1 available at a tempting 7-1 with the bookmakers.