This Saturday, two historic clubs, Juventus and FC Barcelona, will battle it out on the pitch at Berlin’s Olympiastadion in the UEFA Champions League Final, the biggest soccer match of the year.
Without question, this is one of the biggest sporting events of the calendar year throughout the world, and that’s exactly why ticket prices are so insanely high. In fact, the average price for a ticket is currently registering at $1,868.14, with a get-in price of $1,067, as listed on international ticket reseller Ticketbis.
Both sides are strong, but Barcelona has a potent offense, with arguably the best player in the world, Argentinean Lionel Messi. The 27-year-old forward scored a remarkable 43 goals on 187 shots, and added 13 assists in 38 games during the 2014-2015 season, once again proving he’s unstoppable when firing on all cylinders.
However, Juventus has won four straight Italian league championships, and can beat any team in the world on any given day. But it will need to contain the five-foot-seven-inch dynamo in order to do so.
According to Ticketbis sales data, it seems like Barca fans are snatching up more tickets to the final than Juve fans, with 12.9% of all tickets being purchased from Spain and only 7.1% from Italy.
Road to the Final
Juventus drew a 1-1 tie against Real Madrid in their semifinal match earlier in the month to secure an aggregate win over the Spanish titans.
As for Barcelona, the club fell 3-2 to Bayern Munich during the return leg of their Champions League semifinal match. However, the loss wasn’t enough to keep Barca out of the final, as the German squad failed to surmount its 3-0 loss at Camp Nou during the first leg.
Players to Watch
With Barcelona’s high-octane attack of Neymar, Messi, and Luis Suárez – which many soccer experts consider to be one the best offensive trios of all-time – it’s no surprise the team will be playing in Berlin for all the marbles.
Aside from the fierce trinity, Barcelona also sports Sergio Busquets and Gerard Piqué. The duo was part of the team that won La Liga, and have been consistently playing quality football over the past few seasons.
The common belief among soccer enthusiasts is that you can’t win the big game without a solid goalkeeper, and Barcelona has a good one in Marc-André ter Stegen. The 22-year-old German made an impressive double-save, among others, against Bayern Munich, raising his stock as Barca’s No. 1 Champions League keeper.
The Old Lady’s top players, Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo and goalie and captain Gianluigi Buffon are legends, but they’re 36 and 37 years-old, respectively. Some may wonder how much they have left in the tank, but age aside, they’re still very good players capable of outperforming anyone on the pitch when it matters most.
In addition, Juventus has veteran striker Carlos Tevez and Paul Pogba, a young midfielder with a world of potential.
Luis Enrique is in his first season as Barcelona coach, and it took a few months for fans and media alike to accept the Spaniard’s rotations and experimentations in the first half of the season. But he’s looked like a genius as Barcelona rounded into stellar form during the latter part of the year.
Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri, a stickler for preparation, is providing his club with much needed confidence, boldly scribing on Twitter, “On our jerseys we’ll soon have another (star) that no one else has. This Juventus team has some character!”
It could be a tactical boost that helps fire up his team, while potentially propelling them to a championship.
Keys to the Match
Barcelona likes to pass the ball around and control possession, waiting for one of its weapons to unleash havoc on the opposing keeper, something that seemingly occurs on a regular basis. The question for Juventus is, can it break the control style of play, and thus turn the tables on Barca?
Only if the Serie A giants’ can outrun and outsmart a gifted Barcelona squad driven by the insanely high soccer acumen and goal-scoring abilities of Messi and company. If Juve can slow the attack, which won’t be easy, then soccer pundits will give them a kicking chance.
We’ll find out Saturday, sure enough.