Here's how to beat Barcelona
To win, Juventus need to take FIVE important steps
JUVENTUS v BARCELONA
(Tomorrow, 2am, Singtel TV Ch 111)
Barcelona are the runaway favourites to prevail in the Champions League final tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
But here's how the Italian side can punch holes through Barca's brilliance and win the Battle of Berlin.
1 Hit them high, Juve
By the second leg of the semi-final, Bayern Munich had discovered Barcelona's Achilles' heel. It fell from the sky. The Spaniards struggle in the air.
For the German giants, it was a case of too little, too late, but Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri is alive to the attacking possibilities.
The camera never lies. It caught out Barcelona's back four almost as much as Bayern did.
Medhi Benatia helped himself to a free header 12 metres from goal. Acrophobia is a concern in the Barcelona box. High balls scare them.
Gerard Pique, in particular, laboured at set-pieces, as if taking off from a sand box. Often on the wrong side of aerial tussles with Robert Lewandowski, Pique called on Javier Mascherano to hold his hand.
Both centre-backs swopped the ball for banana skins when Lewandowski danced away from the stumbling bumblers to score his excellent goal.
Carlos Tevez is hardly a totem pole, but he could be a grateful recipient of any knockdowns coming his way from Alvaro Morata.
The Spanish No. 9 may cause mayhem among his countrymen if Barca's back four turn into the Keystone Kops.
2 Play the possession
Under Luis Enrique, Barcelona no longer favour gentle, meandering waltzes. They love a quick step, a hot-shoe shuffle and a decisive finale. Possession no longer pays the bills at the Nou Camp.
But their counter-attacking route may favour Juventus. In a sly dig at both Athletic Bilbao and La Liga football generally, Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini dismissed Lionel Messi's extraordinary solo goal against Bilbao, saying the little Argentinian couldn't dance past defenders in Serie A.
Italian stoppers aren't bowling pins. Whether any living defender could halt Messi's momentum is a contentious claim, but Chiellini's broader point stands.
Patience is not just a virtue in the Serie A. The league's slower, deliberate pace makes it essential.
Knocking the ball around for long spells will not unduly concern Juve as it did Bayern. They are comfortable with or without the ball. The back four remains the bedrock of the Turin giants' success. It's not a house of cards. Barca's three little perfectionists need to do more than just huff and puff.
3 Pogba babysits Pirlo
Andrea Pirlo made two statements concerning his midfield colleague this week.
First, Manchester United were wrong to sell Paul Pogba. And second, the 22-year-old will become the world's best central midfielder. There is no disagreement on the first point.
With every impressive performance for club and country, the young Frenchman becomes a bigger stain on Sir Alex Ferguson's resume.
But the second claim may be addressed in Berlin. Pogba must produce the game of his life to give Pirlo a sporting chance of finding the key to victory.
Just consider Pogba's responsibilities. He'll be sandwiched somewhere between Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic, the latter a revelation this season.
Busquets has only one task: to stop the bearded wizard coming up with any Jedi mind tricks. So Pogba must play a minder to Juve's Italian maverick and deny Rakitic access to Messi, who will also try to cut inside over Pogba's shoulder.
The young midfielder is surrounded by a triangle of terrifying creative potential. But he also knows that he only needs to feed Pirlo once, just once, and the underdogs could feast on a beggar's banquet.
4 Fill out the flanks
Pep Guardiola took a cerebral approach to the semi-final, when common sense would've sufficed.
He started with three at the back and granted Barca the freedom of the flanks.
Jordi Alba and Dani Alves skipped towards the opponents' goal with all the gaiety of toddlers chasing an ice cream vendor.
Paul Pogba, an outstanding performer all season for Juve, may step across to track overlapping runs, but Patrice Evra and Stephan Lichtsteiner face the trickiest dilemmas, deciding whether to stick or twist.
Obviously, Barca's front three will be the overriding priority. But Allegri may encourage his fullbacks to meet their opposite numbers near the half-way line, to avoid handing the initiative to the Spanish side.
Allegri is well aware of his unassuming asset at right-back.
Lichtsteiner has started all 12 games in Europe this season. A confident, assured fullback, the Swiss defender needs the odd opportunity to turn the one-way traffic back and make his presence felt in the other half.
5 Give it to the little Argentinian (the other one)
In the semi-final against Real Madrid, a little terrier was reborn. The journey of the comeback kid was complete.
The Champions League once shamed Carlos Tevez, but the final now represents his salvation. A goal and a couple of assists against Real Madrid earned a date in Berlin and epitomised the older, wiser, freer Tevez.
Allegri has taken off the lead. Tevez roams across the box, tearing centre-backs apart and disrupting their telepathy. The scampering Argentinian could be unbearable muzak to the cultured ears of Pique and Mascherano.
He played a buzzing chainsaw to Pepe and Raphael Varane's static oak trunks in the semi-final, slicing them apart.
At 31, Tevez has rediscovered his boyish love for the game, persuading Evra to recently say: "He is a champion."
In Berlin, Tevez has a final chance to prove his teammate right.
EUROPEAN CUP/CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
1992, 2006, 2009, 2011
23 La Liga titles, 27 Copa del Rey titles, 4 Cup-Winners' Cup crowns, 3 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup titles, 4 Uefa Super Cup crowns, 2 Club World Cup titles:
31 Serie A titles, 10 Copa Italia crowns, 6 Italian Supercup titles, 1 Cup-Winners' Cup title, 3 Uefa Cup titles, 2 Uefa Supercup crowns, 2 Intercontinental Cup titles:
"Juventus have to stay so close, mark them very tight, deny them space — and most of all they must stay concentrated. If they do that, Juventus can win. With a good, organised defence, and if they counter well, Juve can beat Barcelona."
— Former Holland striker Marco van Basten
"Juventus have a chance. They are a very experienced team that can play to get a result. They are aware of their strengths after winning Serie A and I am impressed by their compact defence. They will defend in the final — that is logical and justified because Barca will use the tiniest crack in your defence to score."
— Red Star Belgrade legend Dragan Stojkovic
"(Massimiliano) Allegri took over a winning team and improved it without shaking things up too much. He did it gradually, by inserting his principles without losing confidence in his team. Juve play serene, organised football now. They play good football, it’s very technical."
— Former Juventus star Alessandro Del Piero