Barcelona vs Juventus: 6 things to look out for in the 2015 Champions League final

The official Adidas match ball being used for the June 6, 2015, Champions League final between Barcelona and Juventus in Berlin is pictured in front of the  Olympiastadion on June 2. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The official Adidas match ball being used for the June 6, 2015, Champions League final between Barcelona and Juventus in Berlin is pictured in front of the  Olympiastadion on June 2. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - On June 6, treble-chasing Barcelona and Juventus will meet in the Champions League final in Berlin to decide which is Europe's top football club of this season.

It will be a battle of superstars, different playing philosophies and a chance for some players to write their own history or bow out in a blaze of glory.

Jeremy Lim looks at six things to watch out for in the final.

1. Adios Xavi

After 17 years in Barcelona's first team, the midfielder is hoping his final outing for his hometown club before he joins Qatar's Al-Sadd will bring him a 25th piece of silverware with Barcelona.

A master of the snappy quick pass, Xavi is credited for being central to the tiki-taka style used by both Barcelona and Spain to dominate club and world football in recent years.

The final against Juventus will be special because it will be the perfect stage for the 35-year-old to bow out and show how tiki-taka is superior to the Italian side's famed defence. "This one is special because it's my last game for Barcelona," Xavi said. "I want to lift that trophy and dedicate it to all of Barcelona."

2. Arrivederci Andrea Pirlo

The latest player to make 100 appearances in the Champion league, Pirlo, 36, is likely to draw the curtains on his Serie A career, with New York City FC in Major League Soccer a possible destination.

He said: "I won't stop playing. I'll go on as long as I have the same great desire to keep training every day. Juventus will be my last Serie A team, whatever happens. MLS could be an idea, but for the moment I don't have anything; Juve are the only thing on my mind."

Originally an attacking midfielder in his youth, Pirlo was re-invented as a deep-lying playmaker at AC Milan to great effect. To make the Champions League final even more poignant for him, he left Berlin's Olympiastadion nine years ago clutching a World Cup winner's medal after helping the Azzurri beat France.

3. Lionel Messi the record breaker

It is hard to avoid mentioning statistics when it comes to describing Messi's brilliant career.

The Argentinian has played in all but 23 minutes of Barcelona's Champions League campaign this season and if he scores in Berlin he will become the first player to find the net in three finals, having notched in the 2009 and 2011 wins against Manchester United.

This season, he is the joint leading scorer in the Champions League with 10 goals, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo. So there is extra motivation for Barcelona's superstar to find the net and go one up against his Real Madrid rival.

Messi is also the joint record scorer in the Champions League, alongside Ronaldo, with 77 goals in 98 games and he is now so good that he is making and breaking his own records.

4. Luis Suarez vs Patrice Evra - the reunion

Although Giorgio Chiellini is ruled out of the final in Berlin owing to a calf muscle tear, Suarez will still meet another of his old foes in Evra.

The Uruguayan bit the Italian centre-back in last year's World Cup and in 2011, was banned for eight English Premier League matches after he was found guilty of racially abusing the French left-back. On his first match for Liverpool against Manchester United, he refused to shake Evra's hand.

When it emerged that Juventus will face Barcelona in the final, Evra announced that he is extra motivated to defeat the Spanish champions as he will confront his old enemy.

Evra said: "The most important thing is that I play this final. I am proud of who I am and my colour and I will shake his hand. It's not a problem, but I'll make sure he feels my presence on the pitch."

5. Match of records

The match represents an eighth European Cup/Champions League final appearance for both Barcelona and Juventus.

Barca boast the better record in their previous seven finals, winning four of them in 1992, 2006, 2009 and 2011. Juventus have won two of their finals, in 1985 and 1996, while losing five.

Evra will also enter the books as the first Frenchman to play in five finals, one more than compatriots Didier Deschamps and Raymond Kopa. He will join Dutchman Clarence Seedorf and will be one final appearance behind record holder Paolo Maldini.

6. A clash of styles

The Champions League final between Barcelona and Juventus is not just a clash between the league champions of Spain and Italy, it is also a battle between two very different footballing styles.

For the past decade, Barca has won worldwide admiration for its tiki-taka short passing style and its ability to churn out world-class players like Messi, Xavi, Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta at its La Masia youth academy.

Juventus, in contrast, play a more cautious cat-and-mouse game. Under Massimo Allegri, the Old Lady is not always dazzling but her players are physical, tactical and technical, able to pull off rapid and deadly counter-attacks. Also, Juve is noted for getting the most out of their ageing veterans. Evra and Andrea Barzagli are 34, Pirlo is 36 while goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is 37.

At the heart of the battle is Barca's MSN attacking trio of Messi-Suarez-Neymar. Stopping the trident will be Juve's makeshift defence of Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci.

But Allegri's men proved they know how to grind out results in Europe. They scraped past Monaco 1-0 on aggregate in the quarter-finals and stunned mighty Real Madrid 3-2 in the semis.

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