Champions League, Real Madrid vs Juventus: Preview, possible line-ups and team news ahead of Cardiff final

It is difficult to view Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane's playing career as anything other than outstanding. Arguably the finest midfielder of his generation, he would feature in many all-time best XIs.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane and Juventus coach Massimo Allegri. AFP

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane and Juventus coach Massimo Allegri. AFP

But Saturday's Champions League final against his former club Juventus is a reminder that the Frenchman hasn't quite had it all his own way.

When Juve signed Zidane from French club Bordeaux in 1996 they had just been crowned champions of Europe. The midfielder was the man they hoped would help ensure more Champions League success.

Italian rivals AC Milan had just won Europe's top trophy three times in close succession and, in an era when Serie A was Europe's undisputed top league, Juventus wanted, perhaps needed, to follow suit and dominate the continent.

But it never happened - Juve lost two finals during the Zidane era, and his solitary Champions League success would come with Real in 2002.

In 1997, Juve lost 3-1 to Borussia Dortmund in the final, with the Frenchman largely ineffective, marked out of the game by Scottish midfielder Paul Lambert.

The following year Juve were back in the final for the third season in a row, only to lose 1-0 to Real, Predrag Mijatovic's goal providing the Spanish club's first European title in 32 years.

"Moments like that are tough and sad, but they're part and parcel of any footballer's career and you've got to accept them. I'm just happy I got to win the competition later with Real Madrid. All careers leave you with both good and bad memories," Zidane said recently.

The pain was soon eased for Zidane, who that summer won the World Cup in his homeland with France, but his final three years at Juve were a let-down in terms of trophies.

Zidane had been part of two title-winning teams in his opening two years at the club, but his last three years brought only the obscure UEFA Intertoto Cup.

When he made his then world record €75 million transfer to Real in 2001, Juve fans were saddened but there was no outrage.

Indeed, the transfer fee helped the club bring in three players who would deliver a renewed period of domestic dominance - goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, French defender Lilian Thuram from Parma and, most importantly, Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved from Lazio.

Zidane, who lived quietly in the countryside during his time in Italy, remains liked and respected among the Juve faithful. But on Saturday they will be hoping Massimo Allegri's team can deliver the very same trophy the Frenchman failed to secure.

Possible lineups

Real Madrid XI: Navas; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Modrić, Casemiro, Kroos, Isco; Benzema, Ronaldo.

Juventus XI: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Khedira, Pjanić; Dani Alves, Dybala, Mandžukić; Higuaín.

Team news

Zidane faces a starting XI headache over whether to go with Isco Calderon or Gareth Bale. The Welshman would be the ideal choice considering the final is on his home soil but the 27-year-old's calf problem is a bit of a worry for the manager. Isco ticked all the boxes and played splendidly for Real Madrid in Bale's absence.

Raphael Varane is expected to partner alongside Sergio Ramos in defence since Pepe is ruled out due to broken ribs.

Fit-again Sami Khedira made a return to Juve's final game of the season after picking up an injury in the semi-finals against Monaco, while Mario Mandzukic has been given the green light to start against Real.

Gonzalo Higuain and Khedira will be eager to face their former side in the final, while Dani Alves, Juve's best performer in the Champions League, will be looking to beat Real given his strong Barcelona connection.

With inputs from Reuters


Published Date: Jun 03, 2017 05:02 pm | Updated Date: Jun 03, 2017 05:02 pm


Also See