Juventus, Barcelona to meet in Champions League Final
By ADAM CURTIS
College Contributor Network
Arguably the biggest soccer tournament in the world, the UEFA Champions League, will come to a close June 6 in Berlin as Italian giant Juventus, a club that just a few years ago found itself in Italian soccer's second division due to a match-fixing scandal, will square off against Spanish powerhouse Barcelona, a club considered to have the most lethal attacking trio in all of soccer.
The Champions League began with a field of 32 of the best soccer clubs across Europe. Now, nine months later, two historically dominant clubs will take the field one final time to determine Europe's best club for the 2014-2015 season. While Barcelona was expected to do big things this season and didn't disappoint in handily beating Germany's top club, Bayern Munich, Juventus exceeded everyone's expectations in the Champions League, upsetting Spanish side Real Madrid in the semifinals.
Barcelona is led up front by superstar forwards Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suárez. Messi is no stranger to the big stage, having won the Champions League three times, while also holding the record for most all-time goals in the tournament. Suárez and Neymar have not experienced the same success as Messi, both joining the club several years after Barcelona last won the tournament back in the 2010-2011 season. Neymar, who's only 23 years old, has played well this season, justifying all the media hype proclaiming him the sport's next big star. While Suárez's talent has never been questioned, his mental state has.
Off-the-field, or in this case, on-the-field issues often hold back players, but not so for Suárez. Whether it was purposely using his hands to stop a sure goal for Ghana in the 2010 World Cup in order to send his country, Uruguay, through to the next round, racially abusing defender Patrice Evra, or biting defender Giorgio Chiellini during the 2014 World Cup, Suárez has made a lot of enemies over his career. Interestingly enough, three players who have been on the receiving end of Suárez's antics are on this Juventus squad. Midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah was on Ghana's 2010 World Cup squad. Evra played with Manchester United against Suárez's former team, Liverpool, when the racial incident arose, and now starts at left back for Juventus. Chiellini, who represents Italy on the international stage, plays center back for Juventus.
Juventus plays older players, such as 35-year-old midfielder Andrea Pirlo , 31-year-old striker Carlos Tevez and, and 37-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. At the other end of the pitch, Barcelona will field 23-year-old starting keeper Marc-André ter Stegen, a youngster who came to club in 2014 from German side Borussia Mönchengladbach. While their celebrated forwards garner a lot of attention, Barcelona's midfield, led by the Spaniard Andrés Iniesta, isn't too shabby either. For Juventus, Manchester United-castaway Paul Pogba has turned himself into one of the most prolific young midfielders in the world, even as rumors fly that he'll transfer to a different club in the near future.
Barcelona and Juventus are both in position to win the treble, a rare feat achieved by only seven clubs in European history. The treble is achieved when a team wins their domestic league, their domestic cup, and finally, the continental cup. Both clubs are in first place in their respective leagues, and both are in the finals of their domestic cups, the Copa del Rey for Barcelona, and Coppa Italia for Juventus. Obviously, only one team can win the treble given that only one can win the Champions League. With all these story lines at play, this match should be exciting.
Adam Curtis is a freshman at American University. Growing up, he played soccer and tennis and is a die-hard D.C. sports fan. Follow him on Twitter: @actennis96