The finale of the 2016/17 football season is upon us but wow, what a way to bring the curtain down on the campaign. We have arguably the best teams on the continent battling it out for club football’s ultimate prize. Real Madrid, winners of the Spanish La Liga and defending Champions League, erm, champions, take on Juventus; comfortably the best team in Italy.
It’s a clash of styles, as much as anything else, with Real’s gung-ho attacking play the perfect foil for Juve’s defensive organisation and pragmatism. And while the bookmakers have installed Cristiano Ronaldo’s men as their favourites, there is plenty to suggest that Juve, at a general 2/1, are the better prospect for punters.
Of all the stats to unfold this season, it is perhaps Juve’s fine defensive record in the knockout phase of this competition that most readily catches the eye. In their six matches in the second stage of proceedings, the Italians have conceded just one goal; that’s one goal in 540 minutes of football against Porto, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
So even accounting for Real’s exciting attacking play, the key narrative for punters to follow is that this final is likely to be a low-scoring affair. The Galacticos’ last pair of Champions League final appearances in 2014 and 2016 both ended 1-1 after 90 minutes; you wouldn’t be surprised if a similar scenario played out once again.
Occasionally football matches come along and they have draw written all over them. These two teams are impossible to split, and for that reason Juventus’ longer odds make them a better betting proposition than their opponents.
But realistically there is not enough ammunition to bet on a winner inside 90 minutes, so the ‘Lift the Trophy’ market is a more effective way to punt on this Champions League final. To find Juventus available at 11/10 here is too good to miss.
There is also the chance to Dutch a pair of markets: Game Decided in Extra Time (11/2) and Game Decided After Penalties (9/2), either of which would return a decent yield.
The general consensus is that this Champions League final will be entertaining to watch but ultimately lacking in goals. Remember, Juventus kept a pair of clean sheets against Barcelona – a side not all dissimilar to Real at the end of the day, and conceded just once in 180 minutes against the free-scoring Monaco.
So Under 2.5 Goals is a must play at 8/13, and the more adventurous among you may even be tempted by Under 1.5 Goals at 2/1.
Continuing that narrative, we can explore an often unused option in the First Goalscorer market for another high risk shot at outstanding profit: No Goalscorer. Here you are essentially betting on the 0-0 draw, but if an own goal is scored by either side the ‘no goalscorer’ terms are still satisfied. It’s worth a shot at 15/2.
If we were pressed to offer up an Anytime Goalscorer option then we would probably plump for a Juventus player; after all, their defence is much more solid than Real’s slightly more fragile unit. The Galacticos failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their group games and were occasionally torn to shreds by Bayern Munich and Atletico, so that feels a logical step.
As such, give Gonzalo Higuain a try at 2/1. The Argentine has bagged 25 goals in all competitions this term, plus five in ten Champions League starts.