Juventus vs. Real Madrid: 2017 Champions League Final Odds and Prediction

Matt Jones@@MattJFootballFeatured ColumnistJune 2, 2017

CARDIFF, WALES - MAY 29:  A large blue dragon with a Champions League trophy is seen in Cardiff Castle in Cardiff city centre on May 29, 2017 in Cardiff, Wales. Preparations are underway for the UEFA Champions League final which will be held on June 3 at the National Stadium of Wales in Cardiff. Extra security measures have been put in place in the city centre. The terror threat level has been reduced from critical to severe following a terrorist attack in which 22 people were killed at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.  (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

History will be made in Cardiff, Wales, on Saturday evening, as Real Madrid and Juventus do battle in a bid to be crowned as kings of the continent in the UEFA Champions League final.

For the former of these two European giants, the opportunity is there to clinch a "duodecima" having won the tournament for the 11th time against local rivals Atletico Madrid in Milan 12 months ago. Victory for Real Madrid would also see them become the first side to retain the Champions League in its current format.

Hoping to ensure there will be a different name on the trophy again is Juventus, who are chasing their third Champions League win overall and first in 21 years. There's no doubt they have the quality to come through this one, after dispatching Barcelona and AS Monaco on their way to the final.

Below are the latest odds for the fixture, a look ahead to the contest and a prediction for how the final will pan out.

Match Odds: Real Madrid (89-50), Draw (9-4), Juventus (2-1)

First Goalscorer Odds: Cristiano Ronaldo (10-3), Gonzalo Higuain (4-1), Alvaro Morata (9-2), Paulo Dybala (11-2), Gareth Bale (13-2), Karim Benzema (7-1), Mario Mandzukic (15-2)

Figures are courtesy of Oddschecker and accurate as of Thursday 4 p.m. (BST)

      

Preview

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 02: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring the third goal during the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg match between Real Madrid CF and Club Atletico de Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 2, 2017 in
TF-Images/Getty Images

Since Zinedine Zidane took charge of Real Madrid, the team has been more functional, more cohesive and ultimately more successful.

One of the keys to this prosperity is the manner in which the coach has helped change the role of Cristiano Ronaldo. The star forward has been rested at times this term and has seen his influence on general play dwindle, as he evolves into a pure poacher. Yet the Portugal international has been so decisive for Real on their way to the final.

He's Madrid's ace in the pack and may well be again on Saturday. There aren't many players who have found it easy to score against Juventus down the years, although as we can see here, Ronaldo is one of them, per OptaPaolo:

These kinds of fixtures are so often about big personalities, and Madrid have plenty to call upon on Saturday.

Ronaldo scored hat-tricks in both the semi-final and the quarter-final of the competition. Additionally, skipper Sergio Ramos has netted in each of Real's last two Champions League finals, with Gareth Bale also shining in both games.

Real boast players who are proven in these massive encounters.
Real boast players who are proven in these massive encounters.MICHAEL CAMPANELLA/Getty Images

As we can see here, even the opposition are concerned about the big-game stars in Madrid's squad, especially Ramos and his penchant for snatching crucial goals, per Squawka Football:

There's calibre aplenty in the Juve side, too. The spine of their squad is bristling with experience, quality and winners; this Bianconeri outfit have won Serie A six times in succession.

And while many members of this squad have not gone all the way in European football's elite club competition, there will be a burning determination to do so. Especially for 39-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who may not have many more chances to win the biggest prize in club football.

Buffon has plenty of well-wishers from across the game, with Real Madrid icon Iker Casillas admitting he’d be happy to see the veteran win if the Italian wasn't playing against Los Blancos in the final:

For Juve, the men at the point of the attack must perform, too. And all eyes will be on Gonzalo Higuain in Cardiff, as he will be hoping to put his old club to the sword.

The ex-Real Madrid man will also be seeking to shed his reputation as a player who falters under pressure on the biggest stage, having missed big chances in the FIFA World Cup final and Copa America finals for Argentina in recent seasons.

Higuain will be hoping to fire Juventus to victory.
Higuain will be hoping to fire Juventus to victory.Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

The 29-year-old has netted plenty of crucial strikes for Juve during the 2016-17 term, including a brace at Monaco in the first leg of the semi-final. Per the competition's official Twitter feed, there aren't many players who have enjoyed more prolific seasons in the iconic black and white:

Still, there are doubts about his big-match temperament and that of the exhilarating but inconsistent Paulo Dybala. Meanwhile, up top for the opposition, should a chance fall the way of Ronaldo, Bale or even Ramos, you would be confident of them sticking it away.

In a game that will likely be tight, said ruthlessness will be important. And although Juventus' defence has been imperious throughout this competition, they only need to switch off for a second for Ronaldo to change the course of this final.

        

Prediction: Juventus 0-1 Real Madrid

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