…Real Madrid, Juventus Are Finalists
All eyes are now focused on the Millennium Stadium, the national stadium of Wales that is set to host this year’s UEFA Champions League finals on Saturday, June 3, 2017.
Located in Cardiff, this 74,500-seat capacity edifice ranks as the second-largest stadium in the world with a fully retractable roof and the second in Europe to have this feature. It was announced as the final venue on June 30, 2015 at the UEFA Executive Committee meeting in Prague, Czech Republic.
It is known more as the home of Wales’ national rugby union team, but has staged games of the Wales national football team. Built initially to host the 1999 Rugby World Cup, it has played host to numerous high profiled events, including the Tsunami Relief concert, the Super Special Stage of Wales Rally Great Britain, the Speedway Grand Prix of Great Britain and various music concerts.
During the re-development period for Wembley Stadium, six FA Cup finals and several other high-profile football fixtures took place in the masterpiece owned by Millennium Stadium plc, a subsidiary company of the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU). Designed by a team led by architects, Bligh Lobb Sports Architecture; with WS Atkins as the structural engineers, Laing served as the building contractor for the project.
Records available showed that £121 million was spent as total construction cost, with the Millennium Commission investing £46 million. Opened in June 1999, the stadium entered into a naming rights deal with the Principality Building Society in 2016 that saw it renamed as the “Principality Stadium.” However, due to UEFA regulations regarding the use of names of non-tournament sponsors, they have continued to use the name “Millennium Stadium” in official literature, while the name, “National Stadium of Wales” will be used for the final itself.
The final match between Spanish giants, Real Madrid and the old Ladies of Turin, Juventus will be a repeat of the 1998 final; which Madrid smiling home with a one-nil victory on the day. Interestingly, it is the eighth repeated final pairing since inception.
For Juve, it will be the ninth final appearance after dusting French side, Monaco 4–1 on aggregate. The Italians, who won the trophy in 1985 and 1996, had in their strides lost a record six finals in 1973, 1983, 1997, 1998, 2003 and 2015. It is also their 14th final in all UEFA club competitions, having played in one Cup Winners’ Cup final (winning in 1984) and four UEFA Cup finals (winning in 1977, 1990 and 1993, and losing in 1995). Should they lose to Real on June 3, the club would be at par with Portuguese Club, Benfica’s record of five consecutive finals defeat.
For Real Madrid, the title holders, it is a record 15th final following their 4 -2 aggregate defeat of rivals, Atlético Madrid. This is the fourth consecutive season that the Galácticos, (Spanish for superstars) have bundled their Madrid neighbours out of Europe’s elite soccer competition. Being their third finals since 2014, Madrid has a great opportunity to cart home the title a record 12th time. So far, their list of successes include: 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, and 1960. Others are 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2014 and 2016. Their three final loses were in 1962, 1964 and 1981. Also, it will be their 19th final in all UEFA club competitions, having also played in two Cup Winners’ Cup finals (losing in 1971 and 1983) and two UEFA Cup finals (winning in 1985 and 1986).
The Spanish giants are looking to be the first team in the Champions League era (since 1993) to win two consecutive finals. So far, four champions fall into the group of those that have advanced to the final (Milan in 1995, Ajax in 1996, Juventus in 1997, and Manchester United in 2009). However, on all four occasions, the title holders emerged as the losing sides.
Both Juve and Real have met 18 times, all in the European Cup/UEFA Champions League, with a record of eight wins each and two draws. The two sides first met in the 1961/62 European Cup quarter-finals, with Madrid hitting Juventus 3–1 in a play-off after recording 1–0 away wins from both legs. But their most recent meeting was in the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League semi-finals, where Juventus won 3–2 on aggregate to advance to the 2015 final.