History will be made in Germany on Saturday, regardless of whether the kings of Spain or Italy are crowned champions of Europe on
June 6, 2015
In Italian, the word is ‘triplo’. In Spanish and Catalan, it’s ‘triple’. One word will be dominating the build-up to Saturday’s Champions League final showdown between Juventus and Barcelona: treble.
Juve and Barca have proven themselves the dominant forces in Italian and Spanish football this season, with both claiming domestic doubles. Now, it’s time for one of them to make history by adding the biggest trophy of them all to their hauls.
Only seven teams in history have won the treble, with Barca bidding to become the first club to achieve the feat twice – just six years after Pep Guardiola’s 2009 vintage swept the board.
Juve are not part of that elite group. They travel to Berlin bidding to become European champions for the third time overall and first since 1996.
But while many make Barca overwhelming favourites to claim their fourth Champions League title in 10 seasons, coach Luis Enrique – who is looking to emulate his great friend Guardiola by winning the treble in his first season in charge at Camp Nou – is not so sure.
“Winning the Champions League would signify a treble for us and it’s something that excites everyone. It’s happened just once in the club’s history, and this tells you how difficult it is to achieve,” he said.
“[But] I’m concerned about everything Juventus have to offer. They possess quality players. I hope Pirlo doesn’t have too much influence on the game, because we all know what he’s capable of doing.
“They have great defenders who know how to get things moving from the back. [Alvaro] Morata’s been a big asset for the team and has a real nose for goal, while [Carlos] Tevez guarantees absolute quality.”
Luis Enrique’s citing of Juve’s defence is telling.
If his front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez are the irresistible force, then Massimiliano Allegri’s trio of goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and centre-backs Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci have been the immovable object.
However, Chiellini’s absence due to a calf problem sustained in training on Wednesday represents a huge blow for Allegri.
Buffon is Juve’s captain, but it is Chiellini who is their on-field general; a leader of men who will be sorely missed as they attempt to contain Barca’s stellar triumvirate. Either Angelo Ogbonna or Andrea Barzagli are Chiellini’s most likely deputies.
Without Chiellini, Juve will have to shackle Messi, Neymar and Suarez, who have scored a scarcely believable 120 goals between them this season.