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A Messi Showcase Or A Massive Upset? Here’s A Champions League Final Prediction

I've thought relentlessly about Saturday's Champions League final, and here's the best question I can find:

"How many times can Juventus spring Carlos Tevez?"

Even before Giorgio Chiellini was ruled out for the final because of injury, Juventus weren't going to be able to stop Barcelona. No team can stop Barcelona's historic offense from scoring. No defender or set of defenders or gaggle of defenders or bevy of defenders can stop Lionel Messi. He's going to get his and they're going to get theirs.

Barcelona's inevitable nature means Juventus needs to score - perhaps often - and that's where Tevez becomes the only way the Italians can win in Berlin. The Argentine scored 29 goals in 45 games this season, which is the team lead by more than double. Paul Pogba, the Italians' best all-around player, has nine. In case you’re interested, I wrote about the Italians’ resurgence a few weeks ago.

This clip is being passed around a lot this week on the Twitters:

That's an important goal for a few reasons: Obviously it's a stunning effort from a player quietly having one of the best seasons in the world (also I don't care that the goal was against poor Parma). 

But that goal is exactly the counter-attack that opponents have been able to use to some success against Barcelona when the Spainards push hard forward. Messi and his friends will have those greedy moments - the ones where they crowd the box - and we'll have ourselves a ballgame if Tevez can bounce out of there for two or three open, breaking chances.

Otherwise, this is just a huge spotlight for one of the most talented club teams ever. Suarez, Neymar, Messi…sometimes they’re just impossible. Anyone who's talked themselves into the "you know I think it'll be closer than you think" thought train has fallen prey to the classic big-game hype fog. It happens with presidential elections, it happens with Super Bowls, it happens with Champions League finals. No one wants to believe the biggest game of the year is a complete mismatch, but sometimes that's just what happens.

But that's perfectly fine because Lionel Messi will be participating in this contest. He's scored in both of the previous finals in which he's played (he sat out Barcelona's 2006 win due to injury). He's co-tops in the tournament with 10 goals, and he's a heavy favorite to score in this particular game. 

From the World Cup to now, the past 12 months have been filled with the best Messi we've ever seen. We keep calling him the best ever and he somehow continues to raise his personal ceiling. Luis Enrique dropped him back out of the false-nine role this year and he became an all-around playmaker: 60 goals and 28 assists in 60 games. That being said, he's 27 and even he can only extend his prime years so far. It's a gift every time we get to see him on a big stage.

The best player on Earth (and elsewhere) is a when and how, not an if, and that certainly seems to be how this year's final will go. Four stars for Messi. 

Prediction: Barcelona 3-1 Juventus

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