The Champions League Final in inching closer by the minute, and we've covered this highly anticipated match from numerous angles, from press conferences and injury updates, to scouting reports and talking with the fans of the opposition. However, while it was often mentioned in passing, how the Barcelona attack stacks up against the Juventus defense hasn't really gotten the attention as a match-up like that deserves.
Led by the record breaking trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Saurez, Barcelona's attack has been ruthless this season, scoring 172 goals in 59 games, an average of just under three goals per game, 2.92 goals/game to be exact. Going up against that deadliness is one of the stingiest defenses in Europe, which has only given up 37 goals in 56 games played. In other words, Juve have only given up 0.66 goals/game. Purely for comparison's sake, Juventus have scored 1.84 goals per game while Barcelona conceded just 0.63 goals/game. Clearly, the two defenses are very similar, but while Barcelona's defense appears to be at full strength, Juventus lost their emblematic defender, Giorgio Chiellini, for the Final. And that is not good news for Juventus.
71.1% - Juventus have won 71.1% of their seasonal games with Giorgio Chiellini (all comps), only 45.5% without him. Injured.— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) June 4, 2015
But even though Chiellini has be been ruled out, that still leaves Juventus with four very reliable defenders as Stephan Lichtsteiner, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Patrice Evra will try to form an impenetrable wall. Add to the that the defensive contributions of Arturo Vidal, Claudio Marchisio, Paul Pogba, and Andrea Pirlo and you have a very formidable defensive force. But as every team that has faced Barcelona over the past few season knows, stopping Barcelona, even if you have Gianluigi Buffon in goal, is a totally different beast.
Again working hand-in-hand with our good friends over at SportsMatrix, we can one last time during this season present you with a fantastic infographic, detailing how Barcelona's attack stacks up against Juventus' defense.
As you can see, Juventus have done en excellent job limiting scoring chances even if they did allow a fair amount of shots from their opponents -10.4 - a mark that Barcelona failed to reach only four times this season, three times coming in the seconds legs of either the Copa del Rey or the Champions League after Barça secured a big advantage in the first leg. The fourth time came in La Liga, in a scoreless draw against Malaga when Barcelona had 10 shots. Arguably the most encouraging signs for Barcelona are that even though Juventus allowed only 27% of total shots allowed to get to Buffon, 2.8 shots/game, they still allowed 5.4 scoring chances. This bodes well for Barcelona as the Catalans, on average, not only sent a much larger percentage of their total shots to get on target, 42%, they created 21.1 scoring chances per game, which roughly equals a scoring chance every four and a half minutes.
Another thing worth mentioning is that all the experience on the Juventus roster just might be showing its age. Because as the game goes on, Juventus start to give away more chances, but that is especially noticeable when the game reaches the final fifteen minutes, when they give up more than at any other stage of the match. Coincidentally, that is also the part of the game in which Barcelona create most of their scoring opportunities, one almost every three minutes.
Statistics might not matter when the 22 players take the pitch, but these numbers clearly show that Barcelona should pack more then enough punch to break through Juventus' defensive line.