Its the UEFA Champions League final 2017, the 62nd European Cup Final or 25th since it was renamed the chamions league. its a reapeat of the 1998 final between Juventus and Real Madrid.
Madrid are hoping to become the first side in thr Champions League era to defend European club football’s biggest trophy, but are coming up against an experienced Italian side who have only conceded three goals in the tournament this season.
And then there were two. In the final game of the 2016/17 season of football in Europe in the UEFA Champions League, two of the biggest names in Juventus and Real Madrid will square in the quest to be named European champions. Having won their respective domestic leagues the game provides the opportunity to the two giants of the game to etch this season in the annals of history as one of the best for their sides.
The game not only puts two of the greatest teams up against each other but also does the same with two of the most iconic figures of modern football. Cristiano Ronaldo, the favourite son of the tournament and the man with the highest number of goals in its history will be up against the already legendary keeper Buffon.
However, before the first ball is kicked in Cardiff to start this memorable final, let us look at some of the most interesting stats and facts going into the UEFA Champions League Final. All stats are since 1991 when the premier European club competition was rebranded and restructured as the “UEFA Champions League” unless stated so.
0 – No player has ever hit a hat-trick in a Champions League final. Daniele Massaro (Milan 1994), Karl-Heinz Riedle (Borussia Dortmund 1997), Hernán Crespo (Milan 2005), Filippo Inzaghi (Milan 2007) and Diego Milito (Internazionale 2010) all came close with two goals at the big stage.
1 – Madrid will try and become the first ever club to make a successful defence of their Champions League title. AC Milan (1989, 1990) were the last club to pick up consecutive European Champion Clubs’ Cups.
1 – Only once has a European Cup final been decided via a replay. The 1974 final between Bayern and Atletico was deadlocked after 120 minutes of action. Bayern would later go on to win the replay.
2 – Only two players have ever been shown the red card in a Champions League final. The culprits: Jen Lehmann (2006) and Didier Drogba (2008).
2 – Zinédine Zidane and Sergio Ramos will try and become the first manager and captain respectively to lift the Champions League trophy two years in a row.
3 – Massimilano Allegri is on the verge of doing the special treble. If Juventus should win, the Italian will etch his name in the coaching roll of honour that contains Sir Alex Ferguson, Josep Guardiola, José Mourinho, Jupp Heynckes and Luis Enrique.
3 – Only three players have ever hit a hat-trick in terms of European Cup final. Ferenc Puskás and Alfredo di Stéfano netted four and three goals respectively in their 7-3 demolition of Eintracht Frankfurt in the final of 1960. Puskas would again net another hat-trick in the 1962 final while Milan’s Pierino Prati bagged a hat-trick in 1969’s European Cup final.
4 – No club has lost more UEFA Champions League finals than Juventus who have lost out on the coveted trophy at the final stage on four occasions. The only time they won was back in 1996 when they won via penalties.
4 – This is the fourth time a club from Spain will take on an Italian club in the final of the Champions League – making it the most frequent combination. England vs Spain and Spain vs Spain – have taken place on three occasions.
5 – Only five players have netted in two different Champions League finals. They are: Raul González (Madrid 2000 and 2002), Samuel Eto’o (Barcelona 2006 and 2009), Lionel Messi (Barcelona 2009 and 2011), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United 2008, Real Madrid 2014) and Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid 2014, 2016)
5 – Madrid have won all five of their previous appearances in the final.
6 – The highest scoring final in Champions League history occurred in 2005 between Liverpool and AC Milan as the score stood 3-3 at the end of 120 minutes of action. The English side would go on to win the trophy in the penalty shootout.
5 – The most common results in the finals so far have been 2-1 and 1-1, which have each happened on five occasions.
6 – Both Real, as well as Juventus, will be competing in their sixth UEFA Champions League final which equals the number set by AC Milan.
7 – Juventus are attempting to become only the seventh team to be crowned European champions having gone unbeaten throughout the competition. The last team to do so was Manchester United in 2008.
10 – If Madrid win in Cardiff, it will be the tenth UEFA Champions League triumph for a Spanish side – twice as many as the next highest-ranked nation, Italy. It will also mean that a club from Spain would have won in four successive years. Clubs from no other country have been able to win it managed to grab it twice in a row.
10 – Highest number of goals scored in a “European Cup final” remains the 1960 final when Real Madrid outclassed Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3 in the final.
10 – Ten European Cup finals have been decided by a penalty shoot-out after extra time: 1984, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2012 and 2016.
17 – Only 17 outright wins have been registered in the previous 24 finals whilst seven of them have been decided by penalty shootouts.
18 – Eighteen players have found the net in more than one European Cup showpiece, with Marcelo, Gareth Bale (Madrid, 2014) and Álvaro Morata (Juventus 2015) having the chance to add their names to that list in Cardiff.
23 – Milan’s 4-0 victory over Real Madrid 23 years back in the 1994 final is still the highest margin of victory in a Champions League final. Bayern (1974 v Atlético Madrid) and Milan (1989 v Steaua Bucureti) also posted 4-0 successes in terms of European Cup finals.
27 – Not counting 2017, Italy and Spain jointly have the most appearances per country in all-time European Cup finals with 27; Spain has 16 wins from those 27 final appearances while Italy has registered 12 victories and 15 defeats.
39 – Should Juve come out victorious, Gianluigi Buffon will script history as the oldest player to have won have appeared in a Champions League final victory at the age of 39 years and 126 days
51 – Paolo Maldini’s strike after only 51 seconds in the 2005 showpiece remains the fastest goal in Champions League final history.
65 – In the previous 24 “Champions League” finals, a total of 65 goals have been scored.
100 – Dani Alves is set to make his 100th appearance in the Champions League in the final. If he does so, he will become the 31st player to achieve the milestone.
100 – Other than Madrid, only three sides boast a 100% record in UEFA Champions League finals are one-time finalists Marseille (1993), Porto (2004) and Internazionale (2010).
500 – Real Madrid are only a goal away from becoming the first team in UEFA Champions League history to score 500 goals (group stage to final).