Madrid magic or Juventus steel? The Champions League final debate

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Real Madrid and Juventus face off in Cardiff with Champions League glory on the line - a mouth-watering clash between two genuine heavyweights of the European game.

Zinedine Zidane's Madrid are aiming to become the first club to claim back-to-back titles in the Champions League era, having seen off city rivals Atletico Madrid on penalties in Milan last year. Like Juve, they are buoyed by winning their domestic league.

Massimiliano Allegri's men are on a run of six consecutive Serie A triumphs and will try to shake off the club's unwanted tag as Europe's most regular nearly men. Set against twice lifting the trophy, Juventus have lost six finals.

Madrid's 11 triumphs on this stage is a more becoming record, but there is plenty to like about two formidable sides. Here, two members of the Omnisport team pick their winner.

 

Real Madrid - Chris Myson

There has never been a team better placed to retain the Champions League in the modern era than this Madrid outfit, with Zidane's masterful rotation having the club in fantastic shape to win a third European crown in four years.

Star man Cristiano Ronaldo is fresh and firing, having never been as influential in big games - he scored three in the semi-final tie against Atletico Madrid and five in the last-eight win over Bayern Munich as he seeks a fourth winners' medal in the competition.

Whether Zidane opts for fit-again Gareth Bale or the incredible Isco, they, combined with the unselfish Karim Benzema, will form an attacking trio with Ronaldo that no side have been able to stop this season and beyond. Madrid have scored for 64 consecutive games and counting.

Yes, Juventus' defence is the toughest obstacle they have been met with this season, but Madrid have consistently found a way past Diego Simeone's best Atletico teams - famed for their defensive prowess - in Europe over recent years, including two finals.

Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric provide the ideal combination of balance and creativity in midfield, while Marcelo and Dani Carvajal - if fit - are coming off fine seasons on the flanks. 

And do not forget Sergio Ramos, who always shines and often scores when it matters most in big games as he prepares to drag Madrid to the 15th trophy of his illustrious career.

Juve have not gone all the way in Europe since 1996 and many of their star creative and attacking players - Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Juan Cuadrado and Miralem Pjanic - are yet to play in, never mind win, a major European final.

As good as Juventus have been this season, the history books suggest a club packed with proven winners like Ramos, Ronaldo and Zidane should be backed. This record-breaking Madrid team will find a way to add a 12th European Cup to their trophy cabinet.

 

Juventus - Dom Farrell

When Allegri shepherded Juventus to a surprise Champions League final spot in 2015, where they succumbed to the finest incarnation of Luis Enrique's Barcelona, there were still plenty unconvinced by a man unceremoniously sacked at AC Milan 18 months earlier.

This was the team Antonio Conte built. A title-winning machine, while Allegri did not know how lucky he was.

Now, there can be no doubts over the 49-year-old's credentials as he takes his second shot at the biggest prize in world football.

A glance at the teamsheet from that defeat to Barca in Berlin reveals just how much Juventus - who knocked out holders Madrid en route to the decider at the Olympic Stadium - lost in the aftermath. 

Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez all played their last games for the club. A year later, Paul Pogba and Alvaro Morata were gone.

Yet, thanks to barely missing a step in the transfer market, Allegri's keen tactical eye and retaining a formidably grizzled defensive unit, Juve are somehow much stronger than they were then. A place in the final does not feel like over-achievement this time.

Turin's version of the BBC - Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini - will fancy their chances against the opposing Madrid triumvirate, having nullified a buoyant, brilliant Monaco in the semi-finals.

Barzagli, still a domineering centre-back at 36, was only required as a late substitute in each match as Barcelona suffered 180 goalless minutes in the quarters.

In those games Allegri deployed the 4-2-3-1 he has used with considerable success during 2017, the prodigious Dybala scoring a brace in the kind of display that suggests he could be world football's next major superstar.

They switched seamlessly back to their dependable 3-4-3 to flummox Monaco and this tactic is Allegri's ace card. By contrast, when Zidane tried three at the back at the turn of the year, Madrid's season threatened to collapse.

Allegri's men know what they will face. Sami Khedira and Pjanic's combination of control and creativity in central areas can both stifle and unpick Madrid, clearing the path for a destructive forward line.

With Mario Mandzukic a revitalised aerial threat and Dybala a menacing presence across the final third, the ever-prolific Higuain is well placed to have the last laugh against his former employers.