Any time Germany comes up against Italy something tasty will be served up for our viewing pleasure and Bayern Munich versus Juventus certainly tops the menu in my book. Both teams are romping away with their domestic titles so no distractions can be offered up as excuses when the dust finally settles.
Bayern feels like the team on a mission for a number of reasons. Last year they lost in the final on their own patch to Chelsea and that still brings a sick lump to their throats. Coach, Juup Heynckes will be leaving the club at the end of the season and craves holding the cup with big ears one more time while the players know that this team will probably start fragmenting when Pep Guardiola takes the reins.
On their day the Germans look unstoppable however a bad day at the office against Arsenal has led some to believe that their mystique maybe a little more fragile than previously thought. The number of match winners within the squad though makes the third favorite tag justifiable.
Two time Champions, Juventus, have quietly gone about their business and almost silently made it to this point of the competition. In Andrea Pirlo they have a magician and the former AC Milan man knows what it feels like to lift this trophy. The Italian international has been reborn in Turin and if Toni Kroos fails to stop the supply line Juventus could steal a goal in Munich and you just know at home the bolt will close the door.
Juventus have been quiet for a number of years since the 2006 betting scandal, they’re now back and they’re making noise. Will it be enough…?
Chelsea: Conte expects warm reception for Mourinho; Terry is fit
Mourinho, of course, led Chelsea to the 2014-15 title only to see a miserable start to the following campaign. He was hired at Manchester United this summer, but Conte thinks Mourinho’s Chelsea laurels have earned him some love from Stamford Bridge.
“I have great respect for Mourinho. He deserves a good reception. He was an important man for Chelsea and wrote part of the club’s story.”
Conte also touched on Paul Pogba‘s decision to head back to Old Trafford. The manager guided the French midfielder during their time at Juventus.
“It was Paul Pogba’s dream was to return to Manchester United. I wish him well, but only after this game.”
Conte said John Terry is available to return for Chelsea, and that could be invaluable against a big, strong forward like United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic. With the Red Devils having played Thursday, Conte will like his chances a bit more than usual.
The possibility of an all-Liga MX or all-MLS final still exists, with Pachuca and FC Dallas on opposite sides of the bracket. Arabe Unido gives Panama hope for its first CCL semifinalist, while Saprissa can be Costa Rica’s first semifinalist since 2011.
Of the remaining teams, only Pachuca has won a title in the CCL era (2008-present). Tigres lost in the 2016 final, the only other team to make it that far.
Full schedule New York Red Bulls (1) vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (8)
Tigres UANL (4) vs. Pumas UNAM (5)
Arabe Unido (2) vs. FC Dallas (7)
Pachuca (3) vs. Saprissa (4)
The first legs will be played in late February, and the bright side to the intra-league quarters will be one MLS side waiting a round before facing a more in-form club playing a traditional season schedule (though that’s an overblown excuse at this point).
Some fans don’t care much for the tournament, while others — myself included — are extremely keen to see an MLS team win the CCL and represent North America in the Club World Cup, where it can get a high profile litmus test in a serious competition (Real Madrid beat Cruz Azul 4-0 in a 2014 semifinal).