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Interview: BT Sport's Gary Lineker

3rd June 2017

 

As Juventus prepare to face holders Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League Final in Cardiff on Saturday evening, Sports4Bars talks to BT Sport presenter Gary Lineker about this unmissable event

 

Q: How do you see the UEFA Champions League Final going on Saturday?

Gary Lineker: It's a tough one to predict. You've got two giants of European football with conflicting styles which hopefully will make for a good final. There's an added dimension with Real Madrid trying to become the first team to retain the trophy in the modern era. 

Juve have not won the title for quite some time and with their experienced back three and a goalkeeper Buffon who have never won it, it would be a nice romantic story if the Italians were to prevail. I think it's going to be a close match with the odd goal the difference between the two sides. I have a feeling that Juventus are going to do it but whatever the result it's going to be intriguing match.

 

Q: Do you think that fans in the UK are going to be excited about it even though there's no British teams involved?

GL: Definitely – I've met a lot of people over the past few days who have been really looking forward to it. They're not minnows, these two clubs, they're real giants of the game with outstanding stars on both sides and I think football fans will want to get down to the bar and enjoy what is one of the sporting events of the year.

 

Q: There should be quite an atmosphere at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff come Saturday?

GL: It's a great stadium and always generates a really special atmosphere. The roof is going to be closed so the noise from the two sets of supporters is going to be something else. It's going to be a fantastic occasion.

 

Q: Sounds like the sort of occasion tailor-made for a big-match player like Real Madrid's Ronaldo?

GL: He's been consistently excellent for years and years. Ronaldo is a phenomenal footballer, a genuine superstar and one of the all-time greats and he'll be ready to do it again. He scored a hat-trick in the quarter-final and another one in the semi-final so I wouldn't put it past him to score another hat-trick in the Final!

 

Q: And yet some people don't seem to like him?

GL: It's a tribal thing. Because he's played for Manchester United and Real, certain people have taken against him. There's a bit of a rivalry between those who are Ronaldo fans and those who are Messi fans. Personally, I love watching them both as they're truly great players in different ways.

 

Q: Are there any other particular players to watch out for on Saturday?

GL: Well, we're hoping that Gareth Bale will play given it's taking place in his home town of Cardiff. He has been out injured for some time so it would be a big ask for him to start the game but hopefully he'll have some involvement. But there going to be so many great players out there on Saturday evening.

For Juventus, Paulo Dybala is a young up-and-coming player with outstanding talent. For Real, Isco has been brilliant since coming in to replace the injured Bale and watching Kroos and Modric in midfield is always an absolute delight. There's certainly no shortage of talented footballers to watch in this game.

 

Q: Looking ahead to next season's Champion League and it's shaping up to be another fantastic prospect for British fans?

GL: Yes, it's great that we have five English teams competing in this competition next season and one Scottish team in Celtic. It means that there'll be huge interest once again for British supporters who can follow all the matches on BT Sport next year. I think our teams are gradually getting a bit stronger.

We've got the world's best managers in our league now and it'll be interesting over the summer to see how many top players come over. It looks like there's going to be quite a few – a lot of English clubs need big signings - and that will make us stronger and more competitive in the Champions League next season.

 

Watch the UEFA Champions League Final, Juventus v Real Madrid, on BT Sport channels and free on YouTube, the BT website, the BT Sport app, BT Sport Showcase and in VR on Saturday 3rd June.

Visit btsport.com/final for more on the ways you can watch.

 

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