With Juventus set to face Barcelona in Berlin next month, here are some early storylines to watch for.
With the Scudetto already in hand, Juve will be able to limit playing time for their key performers. You can bet Max Allegri will play his players just enough to keep them sharp, but will give them significant rest. The added time will also allow Paul Pogba time to shake off any lingering rust from his injury lay-off. Juve will play Lazio in the Coppa Italia Final in Rome on May 20th.
Barcelona may have La Liga in hand, but haven’t won it yet. They’ll face a tough test from Atletico in Madrid before finishing up against Deportivo La Coruna on the 23rd. Like Juve, they’re in position to win their domestic cup as well. Barcelona will host Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey Final.
Giorgio Chiellini vs Luis Suarez: BiteGate 2.0
Chiellini was superb against Madrid and will a shot at revenge against Suarez, who along with the rest of the Uruguay knocked Chiellini (and six other Juve players including Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo) out of the World Cup. Oh yeah, Suarez also bit Chiellini.
Patrice Evra vs Suarez
Like Chiellini, Evra has his own history with Suarez. The forward racially abused the Juventus defenseman when Evra was with Manchester United and Suarez was with Liverpool. You can bet that Juve will be up to the challenge of defending Suarez, especially if he tries attacking the left side of the Juventus defense. Juve play with a back four. The team’s preferred left back and left-center back pairing? That would be Chiellini and Evra.
Carlos Tevez vs Javier Mascherano
The former West Ham teammates made a controversial move to England from South America. The Argentines now find themselves on opposite sides of the pitch.
The Italian Defenders vs Yet Another Vaunted Attacking Trio
After making Madrid’s attacking trident of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema uncomfortable and largely ineffective, the central defense combination of Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli, along with outside backs Evra and Stephan Lichtsteiner will be tasked with slowing down another potent attacking trio, this one made up of Lionel Messi, Neymar and the cannibal Suarez
Buffon for the Win
The World Cup winner has yet to lay his hands on a Champions League trophy. Based on his reaction to defeating Real Madrid, you can bet he’ll want to take down Los Blancos biggest rivals as well.
Andrea Pirlo vs Iniesta and/or Xavi
The matchup between the Old Lady and the Spanish giants will feature three of the most talented and successful midfielders of the last 15 years. Must see TV to put it plainly.
Juve a strong defensive team thanks to a defensive foundation that know each other’s tendencies inside and out. While the Bianconeri don’t receive enough credit for their offense, their defense will be on display versus the talented attacking trio of Barcelona.
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Did you think I missed any storylines to watch? If so, let your thoughts be known in the comments.