The 2017 Champions League final is already set.
Yes, Monaco still has 90 minutes to overturn a 2-0 deficit at the Juventus Stadium and Atletico Madrid has an hour and a half to overturn a 3-0 score line at the Vicente Calderon, but Real Madrid and Juventus should have already booked their hotels and flights to the 2017 Champions League final in Cardiff. Because neither European giant is due for an upset in their semifinal second legs.
It’s pretty much a done deal.
Juventus has not suffered a defeat at home this season in any competition. The last time it lost at home was August of 2015, nearly two full seasons ago. And the last time Juve lost by two of more goals at home? Back in April of 2013, when Antonio Conte was still managing the Old Lady of Italian football and Bayern Munich beat Juventus 2-0 in Turin. So it’s been a while.
Yes, Monaco’s lethal attack could conceivably score twice on Tuesday, but this is the same Juventus side that kept the Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar lethal trident of Barcelona scoreless for 180 minutes and has only allowed two goals in the Champions League – the last of which came in November. Also, it should be pointed out that Gianluigi Buffon is making a strong case that he very well may be the greatest goalkeeper of all time.
Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe may be the newest sensation in the sport and he may even bag a goal in the return leg, a moment that would be a wonderful conclusion to his European introduction. However, Monaco beating Juventus by two or more goals would constitute a shocking result. Juve just does not lose at home. In Serie A this season, Juventus has a record of 17 wins, one draw and zero defeats at the Juventus Stadium.
The only longer shot in the Champions League is Atletico Madrid coming back from 3-0 down against Real Madrid at the Vicente Calderon. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick to kill Atletico’s hopes in the first leg of the semifinal, so Real is in great position to end its city rival’s European dream for the fourth consecutive season.
Why is Atletico Madrid’s comeback so impossible to imagine? Real Madrid has scored in every competitive fixture during the current campaign in a streak that extends back to a 0-0 draw against Manchester City in the 2016 Champions League semifinals. In essence, Real scoring at least one goal is a near certainty, and if that happens, Diego Simeone and company would need a minimum of five goals to advance. In addition, Los Blancos thrashed Atleti 3-0 at the Vicente Calderon earlier this season.
So, Atletico Madrid simply is not coming back from three goals down against the defending continental champions. Not that Atleti or Monaco have much of a chance, but Atletico Madrid coming back at the Vicente Calderon is less likely than Monaco coming back on Juventus in Turin. That should be a clear view into how dire the situation is for the red and white stripes of the Spanish capital.
All in all, the second legs of the Champions League semifinals expect to be a bit anticlimactic, especially if Real Madrid and Juventus open the scoring in their respective ties.
Both Juventus and Real Madrid have clearly displayed that they belong in the final. Juventus’ defensive domination of Porto, Barcelona and Monaco should be celebrated as worthy credentials, while Real Madrid’s domination of Napoli, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid combined with being the cup holders makes the Spaniards favorites in Cardiff for the June 3 title game.
If Real Madrid goes on to win the final, the Spanish side would become the first team in the history of the Champions League to win the competition in back-to-back seasons. On the other hand, if Juventus manages to dethrone Real, the Italian giants would claim their first Champions League crown since 1996 – before Buffon moved from Parma to Turin. Notably, Juventus made it back to the Champions League final in 1997 but lost 3-1 to Borussia Dortmund in Munich, so if any side understands the difficulty of repeating in the Champions League, it would be Juve.
Even if the semifinals are all but decided and the second legs set up as rather dull encounters, the Champions League final is already poised to provide high drama, top quality and the possibility to witness history.
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