The Millennium Stadium has hosted multiple world class events, but the UEFA Champions League final in 2017 will well and truly take 1st prize among the many epic matches seen in Cardiff. Home to such other spectacles as international rugby, the stadium expects over 70.000 fans, with significant numbers travelling from Spain and Italy. (Remember to scroll down to find out where you can get a Real Madrid v Juventus live stream. in the comfort of your own home)
The final will see two of the Europe`s most iconic clubs come together. Real Madrid will travel to Wales` capital as defending champions following last seasons` penalty win against Atletico Madrid. On the other hand, Juventus will be thirsty to reestablish their international glory after the Calciopoli scandal. Whilst their Serie A dominance has been apparent over the last few years, they haven’t tasted glory in Europe’s premier competition since 1996. Of course, no fan of the Old Lay will need reminding, the Italians have been runners-up a record number of times, their last defeat a 3-1 defeat to against Barcelona in the 2015 final.
Whilst the current side have their detractors, Real Madrid are coming off a strong European season which saw Cristiano Ronaldo, ever the player to get the last laugh over the naysayers, scoring 10 goals in 11 games. If the Portuguese international aims to finish the competition as the top scorer, he would have to score twice against the Italians to surpass Lionel Messi. Of course, Juventus have their very talisman in Gonzalo Higuain. The ex-Madrid player scored 5 times in 12 games for his team in this years` UCL season. The Italian contingent, as well as neutrals, will be hoping for a good performance from the Argentinian as well as Paulo Dybala, the new star of Turin.
But on the 3rd of June, it will be a special night for Gareth Bale. The Welsh international will be returning to his hometown with high hopes for the trophy.
Real vs. Juve lineups
Whilst much has been made of the sides cohesion a lack of fluidity, Real Madrid have a frighteninglyy talented starting team with solid substitutes such as James Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata. Their magic BBC trio (Bale, Benzema and Cristiano) is probably going to set the pace of the game. But Juventus has its own version of a famous BBC trio (Barzagli, Bonnuci, Chiellini) with some of the best defensive play in Europe. However, it remains to be seen if the attacking players can really keep up with the water-tight qualites of Juventus’ backline.
Some questions still remain for both teams. Zinedine Zidane is still unclear if Gareth Bale will be fit for his third final in four years. The Welsh international is becoming increasingly known for his calf injuries in Spain and may not the fit for action.
The Spanish team will also be heavily relying on Ronaldo`s versatility. Whilst he did eventually grab the winning penalty, the record-breaking forward faced much criticism for his performance in the last year`s UCL final. If a fourth Champions League winners medal isn’t motivation enough, the chance to surpass rival Messi as the top goal scorer in Europe this season may encourage a match-winning display.
Zinedine Zidane is also facing some pressure from the fans to keep Danilo out from the starting lineup. It remains to be seen if Carvajal will be able to play before deciding on the defender.
In all, it may well seem Real Madrid have the advantage when it comes to knowing the opponent. Alvaro Morata might be used as a substitute by the Spanish team since he also played for Juventus for two seasons. Zinedine Zidane also has a rich trophy winning history with the Italian club, perhaps giving him the inside track on knowing how the Old Lady tick.
The battle of the goalkeepers
Of course, both teams seem to have particular advantages all over the pitch. If indeed the match descends into a tight affair, however, Juventus may feel they have the edge in the goalkeeper’s stakes. Gianluigi Buffon is set to win his first CL trophy with Juve, somewhat remarkable given his standing in the game and his 39 years. In the semi-finals against Monaco, the experienced goalkeeper did a fantastic job stopping the efforts of Mbappe and Falco. With plenty of experience at an international level, Buffon seems to represent the soul of Juventus in the past 16 years – whether that will be enough to get his side over the line is anyone’s guess.
Somewhat differently, Real Madrid is facing some pressure for the goalkeeper`s position as Keylor Navas was not in a very good form this season with some major mistakes. But in Marcelo and Ramos, Real`s backline bring adequate cover as well goals at important moments in big games.
What to expect in Cardiff
Fans travelling from Europe can expect a vibrant city and the youngest EU capital city. The capital of Wales is a top stage for great international sporting events such as rugby and golf. For the fans, the UEFA Champions League final might be a good opportunity for some local sightseeing with famous landmarks such as the city-center castle and the bay area.
Fans must also know that UEFA doesn`t allow them to watch the final on a giant screen in Cardiff. This has never been an option with UCL finals due to security reasons. It seems that the match can`t be broadcasted in the same city as the game in a public square due to a large number of possible spectators.
But the Welsh capital will see a fan zone in the Cardiff Bay area where there will be a floating five-a-side pitch together with a Champions League history exhibition at the Wales Millennium Center.
UEFA has however appointed a local ambassador to the final. Former Wales forward Ian Rush has been named by the continental forum as the ambassador for the final in Cardiff. UEFA has also named the German referee Felix Brych for the final game of the season. The German has plenty of international experience with appearances at EURO 2016 and the Europa League final in 2014.
The UEFA Champions League soccer final will take place in Cardiff on June 3rd
Who’s Showing the Champions League final?
United Kingdom: ITV, BT Sport, News UK
United States: Fox Sports
Get a full list of channels showing the game here.