Champions League Final – The Key Players
May 29, 2015 | Filed Under: Blog
It’s a remarkable fact that this will be the first time Barcelona and Juventus have contested a Champions League or European Cup final in the competition’s 60-year history. In their respective semi finals, Barca eased past Bayern Munich while Juve caused a real upset when they eliminated pre-match favourites Real Madrid.
And in that respect, history will be made when the newly crowned Champions of Spain and Italy lock horns at the Olympiastadion in Munich for the first time in Europe’s elite club showpiece.
This meeting of two European heavyweights will bring together a flock of world-class players, but who are the individuals that will be key to their club’s hopes of lifting the famous trophy on June 6?
- Lionel Messi
It would be a travesty to overlook Messi, given he has struck a remarkable 10 goals in 12 Champions League matches this term to carry Barcelona into their first final since 2011.
The Argentinian wizard has registered over 50 times in all competitions this season, contributing just under half of the 116-goal total as part of Barca’s holy attacking trinity with Neymar and Luis Suarez.
And it is Messi who the La Liga champions will predictably pin their hopes of on to put Juventus to the sword.
- Marc-Andre ter Stegen
The summer signing from Borussia Monchengladbach has been used exclusively in the Champions League and Copa del Rey in his maiden season at the Nou Camp.
Starting in all 12 of Barcelona’s matches so far, keeping six clean sheets, Ter Stegen will be trusted by Luis Enrique to repel a Juventus side that has struck 16 times in the competition, in what will be the biggest match of the 23-year-old’s fledging career.
- Andres Iniesta
Barcelona’s erudite midfield metronome is seeking a fourth Champions League winners medal of an illustrious career, and will be crucial to triumphing in what is anticipated to be a titanic midfield contest.
Iniesta is unlikely to be fazed by the prospect of going toe-to-toe with Paul Pogba or Andrea Pirlo, and will rely on his acclaimed ball-retention capabilities and intelligent movement to reign supreme in the middle of the park.
- Giorgio Chiellini
Juventus’ vice captain is entering his 10th season in Turin and has the unenviable task of marshalling a defence that will have to contain Barcelona’s devastating three-pronged attack to stand any chance of emerging victorious.
The match will also pit Chiellini in confrontation with Luis Suarez for the first time since the Uruguayan bit him on the shoulder during Italy’s final group game at the 2014 World Cup, and the 30-year-old will be keen to keep the controversial striker muzzled in Munich.
- Gianluigi Buffon
It is 12 years since Buffon featured in a Champions League final when Juventus succumbed to AC Milan on penalties at Old Trafford.
So, the veteran goalkeeper, who turned 37 in January, will be keen to make up for lost time by shutting out Barcelona and will be the last line of defence for should the bianconeri barrier in front of him suffer a breach.
- Paul Pogba
For all the eulogies that have been showered on the timeless Andrea Pirlo this season, it is Pogba who has been the glue in a much-envied Juventus midfield.
The imposing 22-year-old has enjoyed a superb season in Turin, scoring 10 goals from his central perch, and his powerful, slicing runs from deep could flatten the influence of Barcelona’s diminutive technicians.