Juventus’ old warhorses face their ultimate test in the Champions League final
On Saturday evening, Real Madrid and Juventus go head-to-head in a mouth-watering Champions League final in Cardiff.
It has been billed as attack vs defense, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Co come up with the immovable force that is Gianluigi Buffon in the Juve goal.
Here, Sportsmail columnist Martin Keown casts his eye over the showdown
ULTIMATE TEST FOR OLD WARHORSES
Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, and Andrea Barzagli — not forgetting goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon — have been inspired in the Champions League this season.
They have an average age of nearly 34 but we should not underestimate these great players. At that age, defenders can read the game as well as they ever have. This could well be the last time this defense play together in a match of this magnitude and Buffon will be desperate to claim the one trophy that has eluded him
But up against Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Isco — with Gareth Bale lying in wait on the bench — they will need to have the game of their lives.
Ronaldo does not run at players as much as he used to, more often relying on balls into the box.
That may suit the Juventus defenders but Ronaldo is phenomenal in the air. His spring is frightening. The defenders have to lean on him, block him and stop him committing to the ball.
If Ronaldo is favorite to the ball, it’s in the back of the net.
HIGUAIN v RAMOS COULD GET TASTY
This will be a fascinating tussle as these two will have played against each other many times in training from Higuain’s days at the Bernabeu.
Ramos is a decisive defender who likes to bully his opponents. He will want to do the same with Higuain.
While he does have a tendency to dive into challenges too often, Ramos backs his judgment in making those big, last-ditch tackles. I don’t know if Higuain has enough in his game to get the better of Ramos but he certainly knows where the goal is.
GET SET FOR BATTLE OF THE FULLBACKS
This promises to be an epic battle between the Brazilian full-backs. Dani Alves looks a better player at Juventus. He is embarrassing Barcelona for letting him go!
Alves is more aware of his defensive duties but has lost none of his brilliance going forward.
He was involved in all four of Juve’s goals in the semi-final against Monaco, scoring one and setting up three.
It won’t be easy for him against Marcelo, who is equally confident and is very technically gifted.
These two will pick up where they left off after eight years of clashes in the Clasico
MADRID HAVE THE PERFECT MIDFIELD
Juventus may have decent midfielders in Miralem Pjanic and Sami Khedira but Real Madrid may well have the perfect midfield. Casemiro sits, Toni Kroos opens up the game with his sublime range of passing while Luka Modric is a great runner who can break forward.
But it is Isco who stitches this team together. Juventus will try to deny him space but this is someone who could play in a telephone box!
His intelligence in possession is breathtaking and he always picks the right pass whatever pressure he is under.
Juventus will find him so difficult to deal with.