Uefa Champions League Final
WRITTEN BY CHARLES ODUGBESAN
As much as we adore sporting occasions for their sheer competitiveness and their ultimate tests of character and skill at the highest level, creating heroes in triumph and villains in controversy, the moments prior to the occasion are almost as compelling.
The date in question is the 3rd of June: the first weekend of the summer months; a Saturday; the day mum decides to do the weekly food shop; a friend/relatives birthday perhaps – for me, this marks the day of the Champions League Final. In just 6 days, the 2016/2017 football season will meet a grandiose end. 10 months of ups and downs, thrills, spills and N’golo Kante running the circumference of the globe 37 times will conclude with one last match for the biggest prize in club football.
So let’s take a minute to bask in the storyline offered by both Real Madrid and Juventus.
In black and white, we have the pride of Turin and the powerhouse of Italian football, Juventus FC. Since the rebranding of the tournament to the UEFA Champions League in 1992, Juventus have only been crowned European Champions once in 95/96 (where the following season a certain Real Madrid manager was to sign for the club) and have reached the final on four other occasions losing the 1997, 1998, 2003 and 2015 finals. A memorable treble is on the cards after clinching League and Cup success in Italy and the opportunity to clinch their place among Europe’s elite will present itself in Cardiff. Juve are spearheaded with some of the most renowned strikers in football and assured by the stoutest of defences. And of course they are led by a legend… Gianluigi Buffon. Gigi has been a professional coming up to 22 years now and has had a wonderful career stacked with accolades. But as he enters the twilight of his career the one glaring achievement that has alluded him has been the European trophy. Football fans all over the world were left somewhat aggrieved for Buffon as for a second time he fell at the final hurdle to a rampant Barcelona team. He and Juve will be heading into this match as the underdogs (as they have been in the last two finals he’s played), but perhaps third time’s the charm!
In all white we have the Capital giants Real Madrid C.F, the premier club side in world football, 11 time European Cup winners and favourites to win a 12th. After also clinching their domestic title La Liga, they will look to double up with the Champions League and become the first team in the modern history of the tournament to record back to back Cup success – a feat that will cement this current squad’s place in history no doubt. What more can we say about the two main men at Madrid? At the helm of the team is one the greatest, most graceful footballers of the 90’s and 00’s… and any era for that matter, a two time CL winner as a player, France’s Zinedine Zidane. And his main weapon? Well that just so happens to be the most complete attacking force the game has ever seen, Cristiano Ronaldo. Only a brave (or an Italian) man would bet against Ronaldo and Madrid taking the crown in Cardiff. But one of the amazing things about football is that it is never a foregone conclusion.
So the stage is set for June 3rd at the Millennium Stadium as we eagerly anticipate the game to commence. One team, led by a great of generations past and present looking to cement his legacy versus the world’s best and his team looking to establish theirs. Make sure you get a good seat and your six pack ready, you don’t want to miss this! Oh and a fun fact, Madrid vs Juventus is a Champions League final rematch almost 20 years in the making!! I can’t wait.