uefa champions league

Realistically, who will win the UEFA Champions League final in Cardiff?

The 2017 UEFA Champions League is five matches away from coming to an end. Over thirty-two good teams started the competition; twenty-eight have been sent packing. The remaining four will battle for the Champions League crown.

Three of the four teams in the semifinal have made the final at least once in the last four years. The fourth did so thirteen years ago in its last Champions League semifinals appearance. So, which team will win the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League?

Monaco, Juventus, Real and Atletico Madrid all have the semblance of potential title winners. The last three are all familiar with reaching this stage in the competition.

Real Madrid has reached the semifinals for the last seven years. Los Merengues are aligned to become the first team to win back-to-back European titles since AC Milan in 1989-90, twenty-seven years ago.

Reaching the semifinals is hardly enough for Atleti. Nor is another finals appearance. Beaten twice in the last three years at the final hurdle by their capital rivals, and by Bayern Munich in 1974, the Rojiblancos desperately want to reach the summit.

Juventus, which has won it twice, came up short against Barcelona two years ago. It was the Serie A giant’s fourth runners-up finish since last winning in 1996. Like Monaco, the Italian champions are hoping to finally break through.

Outsiders Monaco will battle hard to break La Liga’s 3-year grip on the Champions League title. Their last and only finals appearance came in 2004, when defeat to Porto launched Jose Mourinho’s career. Les Monegasques have already knocked off another recent finalist, in Borussia Dortmund, and a Champions League winning manager, in Pep Guardiola. They belong.

The UEFA Champions League is a competition requiring traction and followership. As noted, all four have demonstrated traction. The four squads have ably carried out their managers’ strategies, displaying strong unity. Yet when the smoke clears, there must be a winner. Which will it be?

Juventus

Juventus deserve much credit for dumping out strong title contenders Barcelona. The Old Lady exacted sweet revenge over the team that prevented her from tasting European glory for the third time in 2014-15. Even more interesting, she did so in style, scoring three in the first leg without conceding in either.

Juve boasts perhaps the tournament’s best defence. The
Bianconeri have only conceded twice since the competition began. Coach Massimiliano Allegri has found a way to turn that stifling defence into an incredible attacking weapon. Juve can counterattack attack in seconds with fast, skillful players such as Juan Cuadrado, Paulo Dybala, and Gonzalo Higuaín making opponents pay for committing too many men to breaking through the Italians’ defensive walls.

The Turin side needs to beat two teams to win their first UEFA Champions League title since 1996. It won’t be easy and Monaco’s blazing speed may prove the more difficult task.

Monaco

The men from the principality have been in blistering form this season and not just in the Champions League. While winning their last six games in Ligue 1, Les Rouges et Blancs also dispatched Borussia Dortmund 6-3 on aggregate to negotiate the quarter-finals. By February, Leonardo Jardim’s team had usurped Barcelona as the top scoring team in Europe’s big five leagues, with 111 goals. Monaco now has a date with Juventus in the Champions League semi-finals, May 3rd and 9th.

Monaco will be a tough nut to crack for Juventus’ back three, as a superb attack comes up against a masterclass defence. Kylian Mbappe and Radamel Falcao have such incredible attacking talent, not to mention support from Tiemoue Bakayoko, Joao Moutinho, and Bernardo Silva.

Atletico Madrid

Diego Simeone has transformed Atletico Madrid into a top contender in European football. The
Rojiblancos have successfully reached the Champions League final two of the last three seasons. On each occasion, it lost to Real Madrid. Perpetual life under los Blanco ‘s shadow can only be frustrating. Atleti will relish the opportunity to banish the spectre of their city rival.

If there’s any team left that can stop Real Madrid from repeating, it’s Atletico Madrid. However, knocking off Zinedine Zidane’s group will require more than vengeful spirit. Real will provide much stiffer opposition for Atleti than Leicester City.

Real Madrid

The Madridistas lost four straight Champions League semifinals before overcoming Bayern Munich in 2014, then winning La Decima against Atleti. Last season, Real beat Atleti again to win La Undecima. In their quest for La Duodecimo, the holders are faced with their crosstown rivals one step sooner.

Real Madrid has shown it can find goals, currently the tournament’s joint top-scorer with twenty-eight. Cristiano Ronaldo, fresh from his last eight hat-tricks against Bayern, will be the key man as Real Madrid push for another Champions League trophy.

My verdict

I tip Monaco to reach the Cardiff final. Their attack will be too much for Juve’s vaunted defense to handle. Meanwhile, Real Madrid will again clip Atletico’s wings. Atleti always falter at the European stage against their historic rival. Then, no matter which club Real Madrid plays in the final, Zidane’s squad will dance around Cardiff as champions for two consecutive seasons.

About the Author Kingsley

I am a football/soccer connoisseur who enjoys crafting interesting articles like the one you just read.

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