Real Madrid is the early soccer betting favorite to win the UEFA Champions League Final versus Juventus at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales on June 3rd.
How Real Madrid got there
You current reigning and defending champions Real Madrid finished second in group F with three wins, three draws, no losses, and 12 points, two behind group winner Borussia Dortmund. In the knockout phase, the Whites went on a tear, winning five games in a row, and eliminating Napoli (6-2 aggregate), Bayern Munich (6-3 agg.), and Atlético Madrid (4-2 agg.). While Bayern has long lost its status as Real’s bête noire, the merengues continue to be the bane of Atleti’s manager Diego Simeone – the White Whale to his Captain Ahab.
Real beat Atlético 3-0 in the first leg of the semifinals thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s second straight hat-trick and third consecutive multi-goal performance. The Portuguese star became the first player to score ten or more goals in six consecutive seasons of the tournament. Atlético only had one shot on goal in the first 90 minutes – which is all well and good, because as fans who bet on soccer know, Real’s ‘goalkeeper’ has butterfingers. It wouldn’t be all smooth rolling in the second leg, though, as the mattress-makers went all out and cut the lead with two goals early in the game – including well-executed penalty kick by Antoine Griezmann – and gave Real its first loss of the competition. Nonetheless, Isco’s goal not only kept Real clear ahead in the aggregate score but kept Real’s streak of 61 consecutive matches in which they have scored alive.
How Juventus got there
Juve won group H with six wins, two draws, no losses and 14 points. La Vechia Signora eliminated Porto (3-0 agg.), Barcelona (3-0 agg.), and Monaco (4-1 agg.) to advance undefeated to the club’s ninth European Cup final. Former Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain scored twice in the first leg of the semis against Monaco, assisted on both instances by Dani Alves. It was Juve’s second win in 12 semi-final away leg matches. No team has ever rallied from two down in a semifinal, and Monaco didn’t break that trend – though they did interrupted Juve’s stretch of nearly 700 minutes without allowing a goal in the second leg. Other than that, Mbappe’s goal was inconsequential and Juventus went through. As fans who bet on soccer surely know, the UCL trophy is about the only one missing in veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon’s record book – which includes numerous Serie As, Coppas Italia, Supercoppas Italianas, and one FIFA World Cup, as well as several individual accolades. The Torinese club won its last UEFA Champions League in the 1995-96 season, while Buffon was still in Parma. As a soccer betting man – as Buffon himself admitted during the Calciopoli scandal that earned Juve A Season in Hell (also known as Serie B) – the goalie must know the odds are against him, but he also must know about upsets. In either case, he can find a quantum of solace in the knowledge that he is superior to Real’s netminders.