On Wednesday I previewed the full-backs that will be featured throughout tomorrow’s Champions League Final. My final preview focuses on the strikers that many expect to be the heroes in Cardiff. They need no introduction, so let’s get started.
Cristiano Ronaldo arrives in Wales with a new job description. No longer expected to remain out wide, Ronaldo has become more dangerous as a central striker. He scored back-to-back hat tricks again Bayern Munich and Atletico de Madrid as Real coasted into the final. He’s rested and extremely motivated, so expect him to be at this best on Saturday. The all-world defense of Juventus will have to pay close attention to Cristiano’s movements. Zidane has given the Portuguese legend the freedom to stay central or drift wide, so it’ll be interesting to see how Chiellini, Bonucci and Barzagli adjust.Embed from Getty Images
It’s hard to rate Karim Benzema’s 2016/2017 season. At times he simply hasn’t shown up. But Zidane continues to trust him as Real Madrid’s second-choice striker. Benzema may not be a prolific goalscorer, but he has a first touch that’s every bit of world-class and the ability to finish like a top European striker. He links up well with Ronaldo and his amazing touchline run against Atletico de Madrid showed the world just how gifted he is.Embed from Getty Images
There’s no team on the planet that wouldn’t want Dybala and Higuain leading their attack. Higuain is a proven goalscorer that will look to erase his underperforming history in finals. There are YouTube videos dedicated to his misses in big matches, so I guess he can’t erase his past, but in Cardiff he can write his future. His compatriot upfront is a legitimate phenom. Paulo Dybala is a special player that seems to have come out of nowhere. Some “football experts” consider him among the best in the world, just behind Messi and Ronaldo. Dybala’s one of those left-footed creative players that come along once or twice in a generation. I expect him to have a Man of the Match performance on Saturday.
Tomorrow’s final is as big as it gets. Two world football powers that enter the match with plenty of momentum. Real Madrid is in yet another European final and will expect to leave Wales with their 12th Champions League title. Juventus hasn’t had the same amount of success in previous finals, but their team is on a mission to lift the trophy for Gianluigi Buffon. In my opinion, there are only two teams in the world that can defeat Real Madrid on any given day: Barcelona and Juventus. Barcelona’s stars will be watching from home on Saturday. Juventus will be crowned champions.