UCL Preview: Road to Cardiff
Juventus and Real Madrid face each other in the Champions League final at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday - but how did the two giants get there?
The Italian champions were placed in a group along with Sevilla, Olympique Lyonnais and Dinamo Zagreb. They qualified as champions of the group for the Round of 16 where they faced Porto. The Portuguese side were well out of their depth and lost 2-0 at home before losing the second leg 1-0 at the Juventus stadium. Juve then saw off Spanish giants Barcelona 3-0 on aggregate before finally beating Monaco in the semi-final 4-1. Throughout the campaign, Juve have conceded only three goals. It is their second Champions League final in three years. Last time, they were blown away by Barcelona in the final stage and they now face Barca’s bitter rivals.
The tournament’s defending champions, Real were clubbed in a group with Borussia Dortmund, Legia Warsaw and talisman Cristiano Ronaldo’s boyhood club Sporting CP. Like Juve, they emerged from the group unbeaten. Unlike Juve, they finished two points behind Dortmund and faced Napoli in the Round of 16. They won both legs 3-1 and advanced into the quarter-final to face German heavyweights Bayern Munich.
In a match that was remembered more for the referee’s mistakes than Cristiano Ronaldo’s second-leg hat-trick, Real beat Bayern 6-3 on aggregate before proceeding to beat Atletico Madrid 4-2 in the semi-final.
Since the UEFA Champions League replaced the once European Cup, Real Madrid are only the third side after Ajax and Manchester United to have won the tournament and reach the final in the subsequent year.
If Real beat Juventus, they will be first team to defend their title since the tournament was rechristened and the first team since Milan in 1990 to do so.