The day has finally come, 6th June 2015, an epic Champions League final awaits. In this year’s edition, two of Europe’s biggest football dynasties go head-to-head. Tonight, four-time winners FC Barcelona of Spain take on Juventus Turin of Italy, who have lifted the trophy on two occasions. This final is not only a homage to these clubs, but also to the respective leagues they represent. Despite enjoying a great reputation on the continent, neither of these clubs can match the collection of Champions League medals found in the trophy cabinets of their respective domestic rival.
Barcelona’s biggest domestic rival Real Madrid are record-holders in this competition and have taken the trophy to Spain on ten occasions. Similarly, AC Milan, Juventus’ nemesis, have won the Champions League seven times. In other words, although the competition’s history books are dominated by La Liga and Serie A respectively, the main contribution was not made by either of tonight’s finalists.
However, times change and so do perspectives. As such, what this game does indeed represent is the present. In Spanish and even European football, the last few years have clearly been dominated by the Blaugrana, who won three of their four Champions League titles within the last nine years. Similarly, Barcelona secured seven league titles in the last ten years alone, impressively stamping their authority on La Liga in the process. As a result, one might be forgiven for believing that Real Madrid is the past and FC Barcelona the present and future of Spanish football. Unfortunately for Barca legend Xavi, who will be playing his final game for the club, the past begins tonight and the question is as to what kind of past that will be.
In Italy, things have not been too different. Juventus just secured their fourth Serie A title in a row and northern Italian rivals Milan are nowhere to be seen. In fact, the Rossoneri have only managed to win the title twice in 15 years. Juve on the other hand, have gone through some tough times and a period of transition to now find themselves reaching for the top prize in club football yet again. Supported by a great new stadium and some shrewd transfer activity, the Old Lady has climbed and climbed and is now ready to pounce. For legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, tonight somewhat represents the closing of a circle, given that the Italian shot-stopper has gone through it all with his beloved club.
Regardless of history and the implications of a title win, what we can expect tonight is a truly great game. With Barca and Juve going head-to-head, it is also the first time that both finalists are challenging for a treble. In this context, Barcelona could even become the first club to win two such trebles, after their first success in 2009. Whatever the case, viewers are certainly in for a treat tonight and they will be able to witness Messi grace the pitch with his magical dribbles and watch Andrea Pirlo put on a playmaking masterclass. This is a truly great final.