You cannot defend all the time. Unless your team scores, you will not win either. That is an old soccer truism.
This is of great significance in the back drop of the Champions League final clash between Real Madrid and Juventus.
The Italians are reported to have the best defense, conceding only three goals in 12 games. But they are up against the most lethal attacking trio that Real Madrid have.
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Cristiano Ronaldo has been in awesome form, especially in the knock-out rounds. He has struck nine goals, five of them against Bayern Munich with the World’s best goalkeeper Manuel Neuer under the bar.
Providing Ronaldo wonderful support are Karim Benzema and the trio of midfielders in Luca Modric, Tony Kroos and the here, there and everywhere man in Isco. Should Gareth Bale be fit, coach Zinedine Zidane will have added arsenal in his armory. Bale will be playing in front of his home fans in Cardiff and the Welshman can strike the ball with a ferocity that many cannot match. Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is 39 and will be the third oldest player to figure in a Champions League final after Dino Zoff (40) and Edwin van der Sar (41).
Naturally, his reflexes will not be the same. Pitted against an attacking aside like Real, Buffon has an herculean task of preventing a goal. All that he and his team have done so far means little or nothing in the face of the opposition they now take on.
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The Italians have always thrived on playing the waiting game – contain as much as possible and then strike when an opportunity arises. But that can only backfire against an attack that is unmatched for speed and strike force.
Should Juventus chose to alter their plans and attack, it will open the doors at the back and Real Madrid will be too pleased to walk in. No doubt the Serie A winners are in a catch twenty two situation.
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All they can do is to hope for Real Madrid to misfire. But then the Spanish giants are chasing history and will become the first team to defend the trophy they won last year. Zidane will go down in history as the coach to win it as a player and manager. The former Juventus player never won it in the famous black and white stripes. Now he has the job of preventing them from winning again as coach of their opponents.
With someone like Cristiano Ronaldo around, Zidane has to only allow him to play his natural game. The Portugal star will do the rest. He has won it twice with Real Madrid and once with Manchester United in the four finals he has played in the last nine years. In this fifth final, Ronaldo will only be eager to add to his personal glory apart from enabling Real Madrid to make history. Cristiano is the only player to have scored 100 goals in Champions League history. One or two more can only be expected from his sparkling boots.
Juventus too have strikers like former Real star Gonzalo Higuain and Mandzukic. But their defense is far more solid with Sergio Ramos and Varahne, Marcelo and Danilo supporting Navas in the goal.
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Real Madrid have won 11 out of their 14 previous final appearances, the most by any club.
A far more lethal attack and a comparatively more solid defense should make Real Madrid the only side to win a historic back-to-back Champions League title in Cardiff.
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