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Juventus: Victims of a curse?

We look at Juventus and their misfortune when it comes to UEFA Champions League finals.

Real Madrid topped off a glorious season with an emphatic win over Juventus in the Champions League final on June 3, and became the first club in the competition’s history to win back-to-back titles in the last thirty years. The devastating 4-1 display also moved Los Blancos onto 12 wins in the competition, which is at least five more than any other team. Going into the tie, Juventus and Real appeared to be fairly evenly matched, with bookies providing similar odds on each team lifting the trophy. On the face of it, the star quality of Cristiano Ronaldo and his two outstanding goals were what made the difference, but there may have been other factors in play as well. Could the choice of kits have had anything to do with Juve’s harrowing loss for the second time in three years?

Real Triumph Yet Again

After a fiercely contested first half, the Italian and Spanish giants were level at 1-1 going into the break. Real had opened the scoring on the 20-minute mark with a smooth finish from Ronaldo, but the Old Lady soon got firmly back in the tie thanks to a stunning overhead kick in the 27th minute from Mario Mandzukic. It was after the interval that Zinedine Zidane’s exceptional attacking unit turned on the pressure. After Casemiro’s thunderbolt strike from distance gave the Spanish side the upper hand, the reigning champions were unstoppable. In the end, it appeared to be a routine victory for Real as Ronaldo scored again (his 600th goal for club and country) from Luka Modric’s cross and Marco Asensio put the icing on the cake at 90 minutes. Ronaldo has now scored in two of the last three finals that Real have taken part in, while Karim Benzema has failed to score in any of them. It’s the Frenchman’s movement off the ball that allows his Portuguese teammate to run riot.

Evidence Suggests Kit Choice could be Key

Prior to the match, Massimiliano Allegri’s side were drawn as the home side in Cardiff and had the opportunity to choose which kit to wear. They opted for the black and white striped home kit, which forced Real into their purple away kit. In hindsight, it may have been wise of the Italians to look back at the history of Champions League winners and examine what they were wearing, as evidence suggests that the choice of attire has an effect on the outcome of the match. Some research has been conducted by sports bookmaker Betway which seems to suggest that particular shirts can actually influence the outcome of Champions League finals. Examining the facts shows that there could be some truth in the team’s shirt choice either working in their favour or against them. 47 of the past 61 teams that have been drawn as the home side have gone on to win, but Juventus didn’t make the most of this draw when choosing their starting kit.

Although they prevented Real from wearing their white kit, it would have been wise for Juve to wear white instead of their black and white stripes. This is because teams donning white shirts have had more success in the competition. In fact, 23 of the last 61 winners wore white, with some teams opting for the lucky colour over their traditional home shirts. AC Milan, Inter Milan, Aston Villa, and Bayern Munich have all won the tournament in white. AC Milan have won six times in their away kit, which is now dubbed the maglia fortunata because of the good fortune it brings. Another factor that could have been working against Juve is the fact that stripes against colours have a historically poor success rate in European finals. Striped shirts have only won eight times against non-striped shirts, and have lost an astonishing 17 times now – that’s a mere 33% success rate.

Time for a Change of Attire?

Juventus have now lost six of the seven finals they have played in their black and white stripes, and it would be intriguing to see if they go down the same route as Milan and start believing in the curse. They haven’t won the ultimate prize since 1996, and after coming so close twice in the last three years will feel that they have been desperately unlucky. Allegri has developed one of the best squads in Europe, and managed to rebuild well after the losses of Andrea Pirlo, Carlos Tevez, and Paul Pogba. He will believe that his players can bounce back and make it all the way next season. Whether they will stick with the black and white stripes remains to be seen.

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