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☆☆☆ UEFA Champions League 2016-17 ☆☆☆



Juventus, Real Madrid deserve Champions League final spots, admits Iniesta

12 May 2017 20:13

Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta has grudgingly accepted Real Madrid and Juventus are deserving Champions League finalists.

Serie A leaders Juve dispatched Monaco 4-1 on aggregate in their semi-final to reach the showpiece in Cardiff, having overcome Barca in the previous round.

Madrid, meanwhile, will take the defence of the trophy right to the final game after beating Atletico Madrid 4-2 across the two legs of their last-four encounter.

Iniesta, a four-time winner of the trophy, says his interest is minimal given that he will not be involved but accepts Juve and Madrid deserve their shot at glory.

"Madrid and Juve are just finalists for the Champions League, but you lose interest when you're not playing the final," he told a media event in Barcelona.

Iniesta was man-of-the-match when Barca beat Juve 3-1 to win the trophy in 2015 and holds the distinction of having assisted a goal in three finals.

However, the Spain international claims his stoppage-time goal against Chelsea in the semi-final of 2009 is his greatest moment in the competition.

"My best memory of the Champions League is the semi-final against Chelsea in 2009," he said.




Bale steps up recovery ahead of Champions League final

Alex Briggs
May 12, 2017 16:14:17

The injured Blancos forward has taken to the swimming pool as he intensifies his efforts to regain full fitness for the showpiece event of the season

Gareth Bale watched on from the sidelines as Real Madrid booked their place in the 2017 Champions League final, but the Welsh attacker is stepping up his recovery efforts.

Bale has been sidelined for a total of 119 days with four different issues this season, missing 27 games - the most in a single season since he began his senior professional career.

Despite missing out on his side's semi-final clash with Juventus, the 27-year-old emphasised his desire to return to action in a photo posted on his Instagram page.

So proud of the team last night and now continuing my recovery to get back out on the pitch! #HalaMadrid

A post shared by Gareth Bale (@garethbale11) on
May 11, 2017 at 3:03am PDT

Bale was impressed by his team-mates as they booked their place in the final at Cardiff. "So proud of the team last night," wrote the Wales international. "And now continuing my recovery to get back out on the pitch! #HalaMadrid"

Out of the team for several weeks now, Zinedine Zidane filled the Bale-shaped hole in his forward line with Isco, who had seemingly appeared out of favour with Spanish giants.

However, Isco is now in form and scored Madrid's lone goal in the semi-final second leg at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday.

Now Zidane is left with a headache as it looks increasingly likely Bale could return to fitness just in time for the Champions League final in Cardiff.




Griezmann backs Juve to win Champions League and Buffon for Ballon d'Or

Sacha Pisani
18 May 2017 01:43:42

The Atletico striker thinks the Serie A will emerge victorious in Cardiff, which will propel their keeper to the prestigious award

Antoine Griezmann tipped Juventus to beat Real Madrid in the Champions League final, while endorsing Gianluigi Buffon for Ballon d'Or honours.

Italian giants Juventus will meet defending European champions Madrid in the final in Cardiff on June 3.

The Serie A titleholders have not won the Champions League since 1995-96 but Atletico Madrid star Griezmann believes Juve will reign supreme at Millennium Stadium, allowing iconic captain and goalkeeper Buffon to pip Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to the coveted individual award.

"Juventus will win the Champions League and therefore Gigi Buffon the Ballon d'Or," Griezmann told Cadena Ser's El Larguero.

Runners-up last season and in 2014, Atletico almost reached back-to-back finals but the capital club were stopped in the semi-finals 4-2 on aggregate by city rivals Madrid.

"[Finals] hurt more than semis. Because you think you're going to raise the trophy, you make moves with your people ... Then you lose and it's very hard," Griezmann said.

Atletico also secured another season in the Champions League, having claimed third position in La Liga.

"We did not win titles, which is what we wanted," Griezmann added. "We fulfilled an objective, third, we did a great job. Pity about the semis."

Atletico close out their season at home to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.