Berliner Boersenzeitung - Key head-to-heads in European Champions Cup final

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Key head-to-heads in European Champions Cup final
Key head-to-heads in European Champions Cup final

Key head-to-heads in European Champions Cup final

Four key head-to-heads in the European Champions Cup final between Racing 92 and Saracens in Lyon on Saturday:

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Dan Carter v Owen Farrell

The sole accolade eluding Dan Carter is a European Cup title. The All Black played 112 times for New Zealand, scoring a record 1,598 Test points. Twice part of the squad that won the Rugby World Cup, he is a three-time world player of the year - a mantle he currently holds. Calm, cool, collected, the 34-year-old has done it all. If he fires, Racing fires. Farrell, still only 24, has amassed 40 England caps, scoring 412 points in the process, and also came off the bench in the British and Irish Lions' title decider against Australia in 2013. While even he admitted to going off the boil last season, he has rebounded as a playmaker par excellence and be it at fly-half or inside centre, Farrell represents a threat, not just with his trusty boot.

Luke Charteris/Francois van der Merwe v Maro Itoje/George Kruis

Wales lock Charteris has been a mainstay for the Racing pack, his explosive ability in the lineout matched by his maul defence. Along with the no-nonsense Van der Merwe, who is uncapped internationally and has been with Racing since 2008 and a key player in winning promotion to the Top14 from the ProD2, the pair will fully test Itoje and Kruis, who both shot to fame as integral cogs to the England team that stormed to this season's Six Nations Grand Slam. The English duo promise to be at the heart of Eddie Jones' team for many years to come, given their all-round athleticism and growing technical skills.

Juan Imhoff v Chris Ashton

Argentina's Imhoff was one of the standouts of the Rugby World Cup along with teammate and fellow winger Santiago Cordero. His electric pace and eye for a gap has marked him out as one of world rugby's finest finishers. Ashton, however, has fewer enthusiastic backers, one of those players hated as much as he is loved. But there is no doubt that the England winger, who has missed the Six Nations on a lengthy eye-gouging ban, is a dangerous player who has an uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time for often decisive tries, as was shown in Saracens' quarter-final victory over Northampton.

Chris Masoe v Billy Vunipola

Unleashed by new England coach Eddie Jones, Vunipola was in scintillating form and a key part to his side's Six Nations Grand Slam success. Never happier than with ball in hand and a few metres of space, Vunipola presents defenders with a headache, while also solid at the base of a scrum and in defence. Masoe is almost 37 years of age, the 20-times capped All Black having signed for Racing from Toulon, where he was an essential part of their two-time European Cup-winning squad. Previously at Castres, he was reunited with coaches Laurent Labit and Laurent Travers in Paris, and he has flourished, an even temperament of an old head in a team that is pushing for more.

(A.Lehmann--BBZ)