Real Madrid (+170) vs Juventus (+196), Draw (+230)
It was a year of extraordinary comebacks and upsets, but in the end, we’re left with two seasoned winners for the 2017 UEFA Champions League final (June 3rd, Cardiff, Wales), a match that will pit Real Madrid’s potent attack against Juventus’ suffocating defense.
Real Madrid have won two of the last three tournaments, narrowly defeating Atletico Madrid both times. In fact, their ouster of Atleti in the semis (4-2 on aggregate) was the fourth time in as many years that they’ve eliminated their intracity rivals.
After trouncing Atleti, 3-0, in the first leg, they faced a bit of a scare in the second, losing 2-1 away.
Atletico opened the second leg match with a goal in the 12th minute. Then they snapped up another in the 16th. For a moment it seemed like Atletico were destined to close their three-goal deficit, but an away goal by Alarcon Isco late in the first half put an end to all that and punched Real’s ticket to the final.
To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Cristiano Ronaldo has been Real Madrid’s saviour this Champions League. With five goals against Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals and three in the semis, he has repeatedly stepped up for his team at the most crucial moments.
Unlike Juventus, Real Madrid have had trouble holding a clean sheet. The first-leg game against Atletico was their first of the entire 2016-17 UCL season. Contrast that to Juventus, who have kept a clean sheet in all but three games. The only goal they’ve conceded in the knockout stage was in their second-leg game against Monaco in the semi-final, when they were already up 4-0 on aggregate.
Even more impressive than their routing of Monaco was Juve’s performance against Barcelona in the quarterfinals. After a 3-0 thrashing in the first leg, Juve went on to methodically shut out Lio Messi and company in the second, forcing a 0-0 draw.
A win for Juventus would almost definitely lead to the Italian treble. Juve have pretty much sealed the Serie A title and face Lazio next week for the Coppa Italia final. It’s been twenty seasons since they’ve lifted the Champions League cup, despite having reached the finals four times.
This is an extremely close match-up, and the odds reflect that. If Juve can open the scoring, they’ll be able to hold the lead. That’s a tough ask, but they’ve been the more consistent and more defensively sound team this season.
The final is almost a month away, and injuries and form could alter the outlook, but for now, I’m inclined to pick Juventus at these prices.
Pick: Juventus (+196)