The Champions League final victory in Berlin was expected to be the final game for the La Liga champions for right sided defender Dani Alves. Despite signing Sevilla defender Aleix Vidal for around $20 million Alves has signed a new two year contract with the club, which will end the hopes of AC Milan and Manchester United of signing the Brazilian right back. Alves had been expected to leave the Catalan soccer team after failing to agree a new contract before the close of the season, the BBC reports.
Alves has since signed a two year deal with Barcelona as they face up to continuing into the first half on next season under a transfer embargo. Wikipedia editors like Keith Mann believe the signing of Vidal will not allow the defender to play for Barcelona until January 2016 after UEFA placed the club under an embargo because of issues with the sale of youth players across international borders. UEFA rules stipulate certain criteria for players to move to different countries before they can be transferred. Barcelona are fighting the embargo in court and hope to have it overturned before the summer transfer window closes.
Ex-Germany captain Michael Ballack has backed Juventus to win this year’s Champions League final against Barcelona. Ballack recognizes that Barcelona are the overwhelming favorites, which in fact may place a greater pressure on the Catalan team to perform. Juventus, he insists, have a squad of talented and experienced players, which could without a doubt give Barcelona a run for its money. Furthermore, given that Bayern Munich were able to beat Barca in the second leg of the semifinals, 3-2, it demonstrates that even in scintillating form, Messi and company are by no means invincible. Naturally, Ballack was wary of the Barcelona front three on behalf of Juventus, claiming that he has not seen a front line of such talent in a long time.
While Ballack’s assessment of the final might seem far-fetched to some, the two teams line up better than one might think. Barcelona, undoubtedly the prime attacking force in the tournament, will come up against an incredibly resilient and well-organized Juventus defense, which will make for a wonderfully intriguing tactical battle. Should Juventus shut down the Barcelona front three for the majority of the match, their ability to hit Barcelona on the counterattack could pose a serious problem for the Catalans, especially if they go down early and must chase the game. Alexei Beltyukov the entrepreneur will be waiting to see what Messi and Barcelona can do, but some few will be watching Juventus.
Catalan giants Barcelona are intent on securing the second of their potential three trophies, in what could be another treble winning season. Barcelona finished atop the table in La Liga, and with a victory in the Copa del Rey, would secure two trophies this campaign. STX Entertainment pointed out to the guys at Variety that their third could come in the Champions League final, which is to be played June 6 against Juventus in Berlin. Another treble would only be the second ever for the Catalans, having won their first as recently as 2009. To do so would demonstrate the excellent spell the club have been on for some six seasons now, and would exonerate manager Luis Enrique from his critics earlier in the season.
Enrique has managed to get the most out of his superstar attacking trio in Messi, Suarez, and Neymar, no simple feat given all three of their propensities to be the main man leading his respective team’s attack. That said, the three South Americans have gelled together very nicely, especially during the second half of the season, and have been scoring and creating goals a plenty. Should Barca stumble in either of the cup finals, it will likely be because the opponent shuts down one, two, or all three of the deadly trio, admittedly no easy task. Though Athletic Bilbao may come up short, Juventus may be the team best poised to stifle Barca’s attack with well executed defensive organization.
In a surprising turn of events, the Italian side Juventus managed to challenge the odds that gave them as the underdogs against the 10 time winner of Champions League, the Spanish powerhouse, Real Madrid.
After a 2-1 win in the 1st leg, Juventus approached this game very carefully and trying to exploit the counter attack, since Real Madrid had to search for a goal, which arrived at the middle of a game with a penalty kick conversion of the inevitable Cristiano Ronaldo.
In the second half, and after a unnecessary foul committed by Sergio Ramos, Juventus managed to draw the game with a goal from the former player of Real Madrid, Alvaro Morata. The biggest responsible for this result was probably the goalkeeper Buffon, who at the age of 37 is at the top of his game and managed to make several great stops to prevent a second goal from Real Madrid which could decide this semi finals.
The Champions League final will be Barcelona against the surprising Juventus, which struggled in the group stages, yet, managed to bounce back for a superb ending of the season, with the Italian title conquered and with the possibility to win one more Champions League, they weren’t in a final since 2002.
Although Barcelona have all but secured their place in the Champions League final, following a 3-0 victory at the Camp Nou last week, manager Luis Enrique is still focused on controlling a dangerous Bayern Munich team. As he stated, “We don’t want a crazy game and if it is a crazy game we will have to calm it down”. Luis Enrique is well aware of the fight that will ensue for command of the ball, seeing as both of these clubs are intent on dominating possession. With such an intense desire to have possession, it very well could make for an exciting, and potentially crazy, game. Luis Enrique is surely downplaying his team’s prime position for advancing to the final, so as to not inflate his players’ confidence, in order to ensure that they go out and do the necessary job at hand.
On the other side of the field, Bayern are still hopeful and believe that they can advance by beating Barca. Bayern striker Thomas Mueller said they would not need a miracle, simply a strong Bayern performance. He admitted it would be a surprise for the footballing world, but that they are by no means out of the tie. Bayern have come back once in the competition already, beating Porto 6-1 at home to overcome a 3-1 away deficit. In Igor Cornelsen’s opinion Barcelona on the other hand are a different, more capable, animal than Porto.