If Barcelona or Juventus win the treble, which would be a more commendable feat?
As it stands at the time of writing, Juventus are 90 minutes away from a treble. Having secured the Coppa Italia to add to their magnificent Serie A triumph, Massimiliano Allegri’s star-studded squad need only to defeat Barcelona in Berlin to make it a clean sweep.
Barca themselves have the small matter of an Athletic Bilbao side who, whilst weakened by the loss of Iker Muniain, will give absolutely everything to bring home a Copa Del Rey title that they have been close to winning in 2009 and 2012. Both times ironically, they lost in the final to Barcelona. Third time lucky?
Should Barca replicate Juve’s cup success then we will have only the second Euro final in history where both finalists are going for the treble. The only other time this has happened was in 2010 when Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan side defeated Bayern Munich.
For many, the Catalans remain overwhelming favourites to lift their fourth Champions League in the last decade, but that is doing Juventus a huge disservice.
Juventus have dominated Italy this season
The Italians have just strolled to their fourth successive Serie A title. When I say strolled, I mean they could have gone on a two-week summer holiday and still returned to find themselves champions. They have been the best team in Italy by a huge distance.
They’re not the biggest scorers. Napoli in fourth have scored the same amount of goals, 67, as the Bianconeri. Yet Allegri’s side finished a cavernous 20 points ahead of Rafa Benitez’s side.
How have they done so? At its most basic level, Allegri has relied on that old Italian ethic of catenaccio. Not in its truest sense, for he hasn’t played with a libero, but the manager has built his success on the sturdiness of his back line. Only 21 goals conceded is far and away the best in the division.
Allegri got the best out of this Juve squad where Conte failed
Antonio Conte’s Juve side were as successful domestically but always appeared to come up short on the European stage. Perhaps that was as much to do with a continued use of an ageing Andrea Pirlo, who dominated his midfield opponents from the get-go in his earlier years but is, dare we say it, beginning to fade away a little now.
Allegri has identified the same and hasn’t used Pirlo in quite the same way, preferring to focus more on the obvious talent and work ethic of the outstanding midfielder of his generation, Paul Pogba. The skill set that the 22-year-old brings to the table is enough to trouble any team, and yes he will give his potential new employers Barca a torrid night in Berlin.
Pogba is the cog that oils the wheels. The reference between defence and attack. Juve are a lot more vertical in their play with Pogba in situ. The equally tireless Arturo Vidal shares the load if needed which allows Pirlo, or Marchisio if preferred to spread the play at will. Allegri has another player who will run through brick walls for fun – Carlos Tevez. His battle with compatriot and ex-West Ham colleague Javier Mascherano will be one of the highlights of the final.