Juventus vs Real Madrid: Strengths, weaknesses of the Champions League finalists
Juventus’ rock-solid backline will meet Real Madrid’s high-flying attack in Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final, in what promises to be an interesting tactical battlefootball Updated: Jun 03, 2017 10:32 IST
The Champions League final between Real Madrid and Juventus is set to be an interesting tactical affair, as both sides possess managers adept at out-thinking their opponents. To find out where the final can be won or lost, let’s take a look at three strengths and weaknesses of both sides:
Real Madrid - strengths:
Squad depth: Perhaps Real Madrid’s biggest asset is the sheer number of top players they possess. Their La Liga win was built on the contributions of effective squad players like Alvaro Morata and Nacho Fernandez. Having a strong bench to call upon as a Plan B will prove very useful in the final.
Speedy counters: Real have for years been associated with blistering pace, and it is no different now. Their forward line’s ability to move forward at break-neck speed and finish chances will come in handy against a Juventus side who will look to defend deep.
Complete midfield unit: Real’s midfield of Casemeiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos is a perfect blend of power, mobility and finesse. Each player knows his role and is very good at executing it. This means they are as good at starting attacks as they are at preventing opposition ones.
Real Madrid - weaknesses:
Defence can lack solidity: As good as Real have been in attack, they have looked suspect at the back. They rely on Sergio Ramos for solidity a bit too often. What’s more, the full-backs’ tendency to regularly aid in attack can leave them open to Juventus hitting them on the break.
Ronaldo struggles without service: Cristiano Ronaldo has, in recent years, transformed himself into more of a traditional forward. Whilst this has seen his goal tally soar, he can struggle to impact a game if his supply line is cut off. His finishing won’t come into play without key passes.
Attack could be more clinical: Real Madrid’s attack is a strong one. However, they do struggle with being caught offside and missing a few chances at key points of the game. Outscoring teams is what won them the league, but missing key chances against Juventus’ tight defence will prove costly.
Juventus - strengths:
Extremely tight defence: Juventus’ defence is what propelled them to the finals. They don’t score as much as Real, but they are experts at shutting down the opposition. This is evidenced by their nine clean sheets in 12 Champions League matches this season. In contrast, Real have only one clean sheet in the whole campaign.
Clinical in attack: When a side focuses on a solid defence, it is imperative for them to know how to take their chances as well. Juventus aren’t as explosive as Real are up front. However, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuan are more than adept at taking whatever chances they get.
Well-drilled unit: Juventus’ solidity comes from the fact that everyone aids in both defence and attack. The side is well-drilled, so when possession is lost everyone moves back to defend. Similarly, the players are quick to take up attacking positions when on the break.
Juventus - weaknesses:
Lack of proper defensive midfielder: Juventus’ midfield truly lacks a destroyer, someone who can shield the defence from opposition counter attacks. Their narrow defensive shape does help, but Madrid’s speed on the counter might just be too much to handle.
Defence susceptible to high press: Juventus’ defence features ball-players like Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci. However, their ability to carry the ball out under high pressing is less convincing. Zidane has previously shown a willingness to press high, and this could trouble Juventus’ backline.
High fouling rate: Their defence is tight, but the rate at which Juventus commit fouls is high. They have even conceded more penalties than Real in this tournament. Given Real’s tendency to cause trouble in the final third, they might just win the game due from a dead ball situation.