Thursday, 1 June 2017

UEFA Champions League final!


Serie A champion will face La Liga champion in Champions league final on The National Stadium of Wales in Cardiff and will start on 3rd of June at 20:45. Cliché or not, but that will be the match between the best defence in Champions league - conceded only 3 goals and all of them through the set-pieces and the best attack in this season - scored 32 goals.

Tactical point of view:

Juventus

Allegri is mostly using two different formations. One is 4-2-3-1, while the other is 3-5-2. Team is that familiar with both of them, that they have no problems to switch between those two formations during the match. The team have shown different styles as well, especially when it comes to pressing, which became one of the most important segments of modern football. Many times we can see man-oriented pressing, where it is actually more about shape of the team than regaining possession. Main thing is that they are compact, and that they are not letting empty spaces between the lines. In defence, we can many times see, that their "wingers" are positioned as normal wide midfielders and as soon as opponents full back receives the ball, wide midfielder on his side press on him, while other three midfielders then creates a three man midfield. In this situation, defence is positioned little bit wider than midfield. Juventus is not a team, who would be ashamed of putting all 10 players behind the half. When this situation happened, we can see a perfect 4-4-2 defensive team, positioned pretty narrow and just drifting from side to side, regarding the ball movement. As mentioned, we've seen different pictures of Juventus in this season. They have different and high quality players such as strong and adaptive full backs (Dani Alves, Alex Sandro),  workaholic Mandzukic and they fit in Allegri's ideas perfectly. It might be funny to hear that for someone, but against Barcelona, Juventus pressed more than against Monaco. That might be a double-edged sword, but because of perfect match of Alex Sandro and Dani Alves, they succeeded. When it comes to attack, Juventus is similar in both mentioned formations. It is almost always about exploiting their wing backs. For example in 4-2-3-1, Dybala as central attacking midfielder is dropping deep and as I was already explaining in the analysis for second match of Juventus against Monaco, that was the key for this duel. Bakayoko was totally limited because of Dybala and with Sidibe as left full back, they had lots of problems with covering the Argentinian. When Dybala drops down, there is plenty of space on left or right flank and Pjanić or even one of the best playing defenders in the world - Bonucci are taking advantage of that and quickly passing on wing back, which is meanwhile already pretty high on the pitch. Italians are playing very wide in attack and often happened that Gonzalo Higuain as number 9 drops deep as well and when the ball comes to the position for the cross, he is arriving into the box from the second plan, and in this way, it is harder to cover him. Even if they are far from the quickest attackers, both Higuain and Mandžukić are crucial in the team as their hard work is often rewarded. All in all offensive players are mainly working hard to make a mixture in opponents defence, to put them out of perfect shape and as it happened many times this season, crosses of Dani and Alex are often finishing in the back of the net.


Real Madrid 

I've never heard anything about Zizou's masterclass of tactics, but it looks that he is a manager who has this x-factor, which is needed for the manager of Real Madrid. He made some substitutions, raised a lot of dust, watching star players complaining, reacting in bad way after being substituted, but he commented it in the way: "That's normal. That's football. I can totally understand them and my reaction would be the same." In pressing, there is little similarity between those two clubs as Real is pressing on opponents centre backs as well, but it's true that they are marking passing lanes instead of players and in this way they might have problems with Juventus. Once again, a lot from defensive point of view, will depend on Casemiro. When it comes to defending, he is the deepest lying midfielder, true defensive midfielder who has the job to kill passes, win as much balls as possible and pass it to Kroos or Modric as soon as he win it. When it comes to those two midfielders, we have one who is typical creator, who is the deepest lying midfielder when it comes to build up, while Luka has more offensive jobs. We can see Casemiro vanishing from Real's buildup, as both full backs - Marcelo and Carvajal are almost transforming themselves into typical wingers, which changes their formation to 3-4-Isco-2 (recently). There is lots of speculations if Gareth will start the match or not but in my opinion Isco has become one of the most important players of this team, and I am not sure that Real would be in this position if trio Ronaldo-Benzema-Bale would play all important matches, which means that Isco would need to stay on the bench. I've been already writing about Real Madrid's full backs which are in my opinion key figures of the team (besides Cristiano Ronaldo of course, who is putting those crosses into the net with crazy goal conversion ratio). When it comes to attack of Real, as mentioned Casemiro drops down between central defenders, both full backs comes really high - nor for cross, nor for regain the possession in case of unsuccessful cross. Isco behind both attackers (Cristiano and Benzema) is often helping to create the good situations for cross or any other pass into the dangerous area, while Modrić and little bit less Kroos, are coming to support the attack, offering himself as a safe option to remain in possession. Zinedine Zidane will have strong weapons on the bench regardless of his starting 11. Asensio, Morata, James, Vazquez and in my opinion Bale (There are rumours for some years, that president of Real demands trio RBB in attack, but I think that Zidane isn't someone who will let someone else to lead his team. Moreover Isco has proved his quality, he is offering Real something more and in my opinion, Cristiano is more effective as an attacker than totally on the wing as well. There is one other thing, which needed to be mentioned at Real Madrid and even if it's not from tactical point of view, and that is self-confidence, winning mentality. We could even say that there is not just a will or a desire to win, they simply know that they will win and that's why they are so successful recently.



Juventus v Real Madrid

Allegri announced some changes in starting lineup of Juventus, but I think that there won't be any bigger changes. They were using 4-2-3-1, 3-5-2 and 3-4-2-1 during the season, and I think that we won't be surprised about their lineup. I personally, would be surprised to see Bale in starting lineup of Real Madrid, and even more, to see Isco on the bench. 
- Both teams are using tempted to use width, but we can expect them starting little bit more careful, not offering any empty spaces to the opponent. It will be interesting to see, which team will win the battle in midfield, which team will be stronger on the ball in midfield, because that will probably mean, that stronger one will be able to use their main weapon (wing backs) more often. It's pretty sure that we will see 3 players in midfield of Real Madrid, with Isco as an attacking midfielder and Allegri might decide to push full backs higher and put 4 midfielders to win a "player more" in the midfield. But in this way, attacking trio of Real Madrid will be covered in "man on man" way, and I think that Italians won't risk that much. On the other hand, it also means that both wing backs Alex and Dani will need to run a marathon to help in defence and be active in attack. They would be also pretty exposed to both Real's full backs, and that's why I think that this scenario won't happen. At least not at 0-0.
- As already mentioned, Casemiro will have a crucial task in the match as he will be mostly provoked by Dybala dropping deep and he will be also the one, who will need to destroy link between Pjanic and Dybala as well. 
- On the other side, Khedira (ex. Real Madrid player) will need to position himself perfectly to deny creation of Isco and Modrić. 
- I need to return my thoughts to Casemiro. As I said, he will be a crucial figure when it comes to defending for Real Madrid, and we need to admit, that he was pretty lucky lately with referees decisions. If he will get a yellow card too soon, things might become problematic for Real Madrid as they are without similar player on the bench.
- Talking about key full backs/wing backs, Dani Carvajal is still doubtful, and if he won't play, that will be a big deficit for Real Madrid!

There are some interesting graphs, published by SkySports:


Real Madrid scored lots of important goals this season with headers after a corner kick, or set-piece. I believe that against Juventus, this won't be that easy. Statistically, Juventus is stronger in aerial duels.  Besides the aerial duels, biggest deviation is at completed dribbles, while all others are somehow similar. Anyway a little bit higher number of crosses might be decisive in match like this.


We can see big advantage of Real Madrid in attacking effectiveness. Higher number of created chances from set play, higher number of assists, of shots on target, of goals, of headed goals and goals from fast breaks as well.


Then we are coming to defensive effectiveness, and if it was expected to see Real in advantage at attacking effectiveness, it is expected to see Juventus in advantage here, but when it comes to won duels, tackles and interceptions, Real is interestingly on edge or even in front of Juventus!



Weaknesses will be decisive for sure in this match. Even though it's a good question what is the meaning of weakness as both clubs are on top level, but the team who will concede the goal due to their own bigger error, will find themselves in tough position. Real missed higher number of big chances, which is somehow normal as they created higher number of chances as well. 


Some facts (uefa.com, whoscored.com)


Juventus:
- This is a ninth European Cup final appearance for Juventus, who have lost their last four. • The 2015 defeat by Barcelona in Berlin was Juve's sixth final reversal – setting an unwanted new record. They had previously been level with FC Bayern München and SL Benfica on five final losses.
- Juventus have also played in four UEFA Cup finals – winning three (1977, 1990, 1993) and losing one (1995) – as well as the 1984 European Cup Winners' Cup final, which they won.
- Gianluigi Buffon achieved so many trophies, but Champions league has always deluded him!



Real Madrid:
- Madrid have won a record 11 European Cups, and have triumphed in their last five finals. Overall their final record is W11 L3:
- Madrid want to become the first side to make a successful UEFA Champions League title defence. -- They are the fifth reigning champions to return to the final the following season, the most recent being Manchester United in 2009.
- No team have won the European Cup in successive seasons since Milan (1989, 1990).


Previous meetings:
- This will be the 19th UEFA competition meeting between Juventus and Real Madrid – all in the European Cup – and there is virtually nothing between the sides. Both clubs have eight wins and two draws, with Juve scoring 21 goals to Madrid's 18.
- Their most recent encounters came in the 2014/15 semi-finals, when Juve won 3-2 on aggregate. Goals from ex-Madrid striker Morata – now back with the Merengues – and Carlos Tévez gave Juve a 2-1 first-leg victory in Turin, despite Cristiano Ronaldo's reply.
- Juve are unbeaten in their last three meetings (W1 D2) with Real Madrid, since a 2-1 loss at the Bernabéu in the 2013/14 group stage with Ronaldo scoring twice in the first 30 minutes. That loss is the Bianconeri's sole reverse in the last seven matches between the pair (W4 D2).
- Ronaldo has hit the target in all four of his appearances against Juventus for Real Madrid – five goals in all.
- Madrid have already claimed one European title at Juve's expense, Predrag Mijatović's close-range effort in the 66th minute proving enough to win the 1998 UEFA Champions League final.


Match facts:
- Dani Alves is set for his 100th UEFA Champions League appearance, the 31st player to reach the milestone. Ramos and Buffon also brought up their centuries this season.
- Juventus are bidding to become the ninth team to win the treble having wrapped up their third successive league-and-cup double (all under coach Allegri).
- Ronaldo has registered ten UEFA Champions League goals this season, just one less than leading scorer Lionel Messi. The Portuguese is looking to finish top of the pile for the fifth campaign running.
- Madrid have scored in a record 64 consecutive games in all competitions.
- Twenty-two of Madrid's 106 Liga goals this term came from set pieces (not including penalties).

- There have been over 2.5 goals scored in Real Madrid's last 12 games (UEFA Champions League).
- Juventus have won 7 of their last 8 matches (UEFA Champions League).
- Juventus have won 5 of their last 6 home matches against Real Madrid in all competitions.
- Juventus have seen over 2.5 goals in their last 4 home matches against Real Madrid in all competitions.
- Juventus have scored at least 2 goals in their last 4 home matches against Real Madrid in all competitions.

Betting point of view:

For me personally, it's a coin flip match. There is that many things which are totally unpredictable and match could be decided by the smallest possible thing. Who will have a better day? That's just another fact, which is impossible to predict. In my opinion, Real Madrid isn't playing at their best this season, and even if there will be lots of people who will disagree with me, I think that they are not. As mentioned above, it's a tricky question, what would have happened, if Bale wouldn't pick up an injury and if Isco wouldn't play as much as he plays recently. Maybe someone thinks that I am overreacting with this player, but he is exceptional. He can make the difference on the pitch with two moves, and okey, I agree - Cristiano is the one, who usually pushes ball into the net, but without Isco, Real wouldn't had created that many chances. Not even close to that! For me, the biggest question is Carvajal. Danilo is far from Spaniards quality, and right flank of Real will be much weaker without him. If he won't play, then I am somehow giving little bit more chances to Juventus than the bookmakers and if on anything, than I would put my thought on Italians, but as everyone knows, I will be staying out of that match. An interesting bet might be both teams to score, as for Real is simply impossible not to concede the goal, while their attack is fortress and it would be a surprise if they wouldn't net at least one, but... why not? Atletico was 1-0 in front till 94th minute, will be that "easy" to score from corner kick against Juventus? Well.. anyway, have in thoughts, that it is the final of Champions league and that anything can happen in those 90+ minutes. If you need to bet, just to have fun during the match, rather bet with friends. 

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