Both Juventus and Barcelona are looking to cap fantastic seasons by completing rare trebles when they meet in the Champions League final at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin on Saturday.
Juventus are appearing in their first Champions League final in 12 years as they look to win the European Cup for the third time, but Barcelona, inspired by Lionel Messi, are the favourites to win a fifth European Cup and fourth in the last decade.
Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri and his Barcelona counterpart Luis Enrique have already enjoyed excellent debut seasons in charge of their respective clubs, both winning domestic league and cup doubles, and both are now within touching distance of making it a glorious treble. For Barcelona, it would be a second such treble following their fantastic first season under Pep Guardiola in 2008-09, but such an achievement is very rare indeed.
Only six other clubs have ever won a domestic league and cup double and the European Cup in the same season. Barcelona can therefore become the first club to do it twice, and their current team contains several members of that 2009 vintage under Guardiola.
“We are still a young team. There are still quite a few players from the Guardiola era,” said Luis Enrique. “This could turn out to be an historic season for us.”
Juventus, meanwhile, will either join that elite group of clubs or become the first club to have lost six European Cup finals.
The Italian champions’ main task is to blunt Barcelona’s razor-sharp attack of Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez which has sliced through defences on the road to Berlin.
The team, too recognises that deafeating Barcelona can be a daunting task. "I think it would be fair to say objectively Barca are the favourites to win because they have great players with great skills," Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, their sole survivor from their last Champions League final, the defeat to AC Milan in 2003, said.
"It's only fair that a team with Messi, Suarez and Neymar are favourites," said the former World Cup winner, chasing his first European crown at the age of 37.
But Juventus have neither flown to Berlin just to witness Messi’s magic first hand nor do they wish to see him become the first player to score in three Champions League finals.
“This is the game of our lives,” added Buffon. “I would always want to be starting off as a favourite, but we have our weapons to try and make Barcelona’s job more difficult,” added Buffon, who along with Pirlo won the World Cup at the same stadium with Italy in 2006.
With four consecutive Serie A titles behind them, Allegri’s side carry a wealth of experience.
“They have that Italian competitive edge. It is always dif ficult to overcome that because they are very competitive,” said Javier Mascherano.