The Champions League final takes place in Berlin on Saturday and will hopefully prove a welcome distraction away from what has been arguably the ugliest week in football’s history. Sepp Blatter has finally fallen on his shield as top FIFA men from around the world try desperately to dig themselves out of the sh*t by singing like drunken canaries.
The latest bombshell is that FIFA paid the Irish FA millions of euros not to appeal Thierry Henry’s blatant handball during France’s 2009 World Cup play-off clash with the Republic of Ireland. How the f*ck does that work then? Ireland allegedly paid €5 million not to appeal the Henry handball. Who were they going to appeal to? The handball police? I digress.
Saturday’s showpiece between Juventus and Barcelona should be a classic. Amazingly these two European behemoths have not played each other in over a decade. The layers make Barca warm favourites and I was surprised to see 5/1 quotes about Juventus winning in 90 minutes kicking about this week. After all this is the same side who knocked Real Madrid out in the semi’s over two legs and who won Serie A this season with plenty in hand. That was their fourth domestic title in a row and any team with the likes of Paul Pogba, Carlos Tevez and Arturo Vidal in it deserve respect.
I could watch Pogba all day and Sir Alex Ferguson must wince every time he sees the enigmatic Frenchie, who is rapidly turning into the most complete midfield player in Europe. Tevez too has been brilliant this season. Let’s have it right. Football in HD was obviously not invented with Tevez in mind but the Argentine with a face like a robber’s dog has scored 29 times this season and will be up for this.
Talking about complete midfield players, Xavi, makes his final appearance for the Catalan giants this weekend before dashing off to fill his boots financially in Qatar. Will be be heading over to the Gulf state with a fourth Champions League winners medal? I reckon he will, because as good as Juve are defensively (and they are very, very good) I still see them as no match for the three amigos Messi, Neymar and Suarez. The Holy Trinity have already plundered a frankly outrageous 119 goals between them this term and all three forwards are operating at the very peak of their powers.
Neymar has scored 12 goals in his last 13 matches and while all eyes will be focusing on whether Messi can make history by scoring in a third separate Champions League final, I fancy the lavishly gifted Brazilian to score on the grandest stage in club football. Finals like this often fail to live up to the hype but Luis Enrique’s charges – who are on for an historic treble (as are Juventus by the way) – only know to play one way and I can see them rolling right over a shell-shocked Juventus in Germany.
Betting: Barcelona to win and both teams to score at 14/5 (Coral)
Betting: Over 2.5 goals at 10/11 (Boyle/Coral/Hills)
Betting: Neymar to score anytime at 6/4 (Paddy Power)