If you thought that the biggest storyline heading into the Champions League Final featuring Barcelona and Juventus was the treble in the balance for both teams, you are right, but also missing one of the juiciest subplots of the game. For the first time since 2014, Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra will share the field.
For those who don’t know, Suarez allegedly called Evra somethings that aren’t nice, in a racial sense. Those slurs resulted in Suarez getting fined £40,000 by the English FA and banned for 8 matches. Suarez has denied any wrong doing since the day that the allegations were leveled.
Suarez has yet to comment on the high profile reunion to take place on the 6th of June. Evra, on the other hand, was questioned on the subject after Juventus’ semifinal victory over Real Madrid, specifically on whether or not he would shake Suarez’ hand in the prematch ceremonies. A slightly annoyed Evra had this to say:
"A lot of people ask me this question. It doesn't matter. The most important thing is I play the final, you know.”
His annoyance is understandable considering he and his side just earned their biggest victory of the year, but he would in the end answer the question.
"I am proud to be what I am, I am proud about my colour and I will shake his hand, it is no problem," Evra continued. "But I will make sure he will feel me on the pitch."
Consider us excited. Suarez has arguably been the best striker on the planet since gelling with strike partners Neymar and Messi after the turn of the new year. We are sure that Evra does want to make Suarez feel him, but he will have to get close to him first, a task that is far easier said than done.
All this is setting fans up for a thrilling Champions League Final. If Barcelona wins, they will have defeated the English, German, and Italian champions along the way, won the treble, and made a very real case to be considered one of the best teams of all time. Yes, better than Pep Guardiola’s 2011 treble winning side.
If Juventus win they will return footballing glory to a country that has been slowly hung out to try in competitive football. Inter and AC Milan are shadows of their former selves, Napoli is in danger of missing out of the Champions League next season. Only Juventus, with its sustained dominance of Serie A, a legitimate Ballon d’Or prospect in Paul Pogba, the walking manifestation of Italian class in Andrea Pirlo, and an the ageless Gigi Buffon can give Italy anything to be proud of on the pitch. The side believes, and when they take the field, an entire nation will be behind it.
Of course the match still has to be played, and national pride has never won a football game. Barcelona are the favorites; they could win 4-0 and no one would be surprised, that’s how talented they are. If Juventus are to win they certainly will need to make their presence felt defensively, but they must also have a cutting edge in attack. It sounds like Evra is confident he can provide the former, we will see if Pogba, Pirlo, Morata, Vidal, Marchisio, and Carlos Tevez can provide the latter.