UK time is: 21:33:39
Vital Login
Social Login

Choose your club

Other Sites

Network Navigation

Vital Partners

'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Alan Hansen On The Champions League Final

Alan Hansen, pundit for the New Football Pools gives his views on tonight's Champions League Final.

'Tonight's Champions League final should be a great occasion with two great attacking sides on show. However, don't expect Manchester United to go out and attack Barcelona gung ho as they will be more than aware of the talent of the Catalans in terms of attacking open spaces.

Barcelona play a wonderful brand of attacking football with sensational players like Xavi, Iniesta and Messi all pleasing on the eye. Despite this, I'd back United to win the trophy for the simple reason that defensively they are far the better side. If you look at Barca's performances in the semi against Chelsea, the Londoners did unbelievably well to contain them. In fact, with a better referee and better finishing Chelsea could quite easily have scored 4 goals. Guus Hiddink's side really should be in the final as up until the 92nd minute Barcelona didn't look like they'd score in a million years.

Without a shadow of a doubt United will play tactics almost identical to the ones they used to beat Arsenal at the Emirates in their semi-final. For that reason I'm sure Darren Fletcher would have started the match tonight if he wasn't suspended. Fletcher is a box-to-box midfielder who can close down the opposition quickly and get up and down the park so ideal for this match. The counter-attacking game perfectly suits the players Sir Alex has at his disposal as they can defend but also possess lightning quick players in attack.

Lionel Messi is Barcelona's main man and is likely to line-up on the right-hand side so will be up against Patrice Evra. I'd also expect Ji-Sung Park to be brought in on the left-hand side of midfield so United can double up on the little Argentinian. They will look to frustrate him as much as they can and deal with him in a similar manner to that which both Jose Bosingwa and Ashley Cole did in their matches against Messi. If you allow the Argentine time and space, then he'll hurt you but if you defend properly it will be hard to see the real Messi in action. The Barca star hasn't had the best of times against English opposition for the simple reason that these clubs defend properly, hold their shape and double up limiting the winger's space.

This match will see arguably the best two players in the world up against each other in the shape of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. It's a tough call to separate them in terms of just who is best. There`s no doubt Messi is technically a better player and possesses more ability than Ronaldo but the United star has many attributes the Barcelona man doesn't. Ronaldo is great in the air while Messi barely heads the ball and the Portuguese winger also has incredible pace and free-kicks in his arsenal. There's not a lot in it to be honest but one thing's for certain, I wouldn't enjoy playing against either.

The key to this game may rest on Barcelona's ability to open up the United defence. Xavi and Iniesta may be wonderful creative players but time and time again we've seen that if the opposition keeps two banks of four in place, it's extremely difficult to break them down. The problem with keeping a rigid defensive system in place is that you may struggle to keep possession of the ball but I don't see this affecting United. After all, they have plenty of box-to-box players and can break with the ball with pace to devastating effect.

Barcelona have some defensive problems themselves with full-backs Dani Alves and Eric Abidal both missing through suspension. They will miss Alves in an attacking capacity but I`m not so sure about Abidal. Every time I see the French defender he looks as though he has a mistake in him so a different defender in his position may well improve Barca's chances.

Another interesting factor of this game will be the inexperienced Josep Guardiola up against a man who has seen it and done it all in the shape of Sir Alex Ferguson. Sir Alex still possesses a great hunger to win and knows full well what it takes to win this trophy having done it twice already.

Guardiola has had a great first season winning the domestic double and reaching the Champions League final although he did inherit a squad packed with quality players. He has got those players that underachieved last season playing again but it`s easier to get top stars returning to form rather than building a new team with an average set of players. In some ways, Guardiola has done a similar job to Guus Hiddink at Chelsea who arrived at Stamford Bridge and revitalised a very good squad of players and in return restored confidence.

The players will enjoy playing at Rome's Stadio Olimpico tonight as it's a great venue to play in. I was lucky enough to have played in a European Cup final there myself and it counts as one of my best footballing memories.

Manchester United have the chance to win back-to-back Champions League trophies tonight which would be a tremendous achievement, even for a man who has done it all like Sir Alex. I played in four finals, winning three times and I can tell you that the 5 minutes after winning the cup is one of the best feelings in your life. I fully expect Manchester United players to be feeling that way tonight. Enjoy the game.'

To visit the New Football Pools - click here where you find the The Classic Pools, Footy 15 and Premier 10 games.




Use your social login to comment on front page articles. Login using you Facebook, Twitter, Google or LinkedIn accounts and have your say!



For the very latest Premier League odds

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Site Staff Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday May 27 2009

Time: 6:03PM

Your Comments

What time's the parade then?
fifthcolumnblue
Good thing you booked it so many weeks in advance. Smart thinking.
fifthcolumnblue
only 1 team turned up
123spurs
outplayed and outclassed...
osterro
hahhhahahahahahahhahahahhahahahahahahahahahahaa..............all that is left is i hope feruson dies of a stroke
lillywhites101
hahahhahahahaha K U N T S
lillywhites101
quintuple anyone...? hahahahahaha
osterro
you were very sub-par today. in the first half you were probably better but then you got bullied in the second half. lucky not to allow three or four. it's good to see Ronaldo get knocked down to earth, though.
RadioactiveD
There's no way Utd were better in the first, RD. The first ten minutes, yes, but after they were completely outclassed.
Aamir
We failed to defend our champions league trophy against the best team in europe. We still won 4 pieces of silverware this season and came VERY close to winning three more; yet other fans are celebrating like we got relegated. But still, it shows that we are doing well, the day opposition fans start consoling us, we'll be finished.
tuscan3000
Alex Ferguson got his selection all wrong tonight, he should of picked Howard Webb
mickeymouser
Tuscan - Be honest, no-one is decrying or belittling your impressive achievements like the Charity Shield, the World Club Super Global Ultra Cup or the Hokey Cokey Cup. You were by far the most consistent team in the league. We are enjoying laughing at the cocky overconfident mockney reds that booked tomorrow off and their train tickets up to Salford from the famous suburbs of Manchester like Halifax, Southampton, Lower Tooting and Cornwall.
Englishman-in-NY
OK, Aamir: first ten minutes. What difference does it make?
RadioactiveD
quintuple anyone...? hahahahahaha. yes actually -we won four trophies this season. and finished runner-up in one and semis in other. but hang a moment.... liverpool = 0 trophies for second season running. arsenal = 0 trophies for fourth season running is it now? chelsea = didn't win anything last season and the FA cup is all they can win this.
Man utd champions
radioactiveD i'd say other way round - first half we just needed half-time, second half we were better and started to dominate again. congratulations to barcelona though - better team on the night. we didn't perform, barca did. they deserved to win. well done, tuscan3000, my point entirely. i'd like to know just how many trophies did THEIR team win this season?! my betting is none.
Man utd champions
"Messi barely heads the ball"............
CoxintheBox
 

Have Your Say

Log in...
with your social network     OR     with your Vital account

Recent Manchester United Articles

That Same Old Song! (Wednesday August 20 2014)

Loyalty can Override Cash! (Wednesday August 20 2014)

Guarin Talk Resurrected (Wednesday August 20 2014)

Zaha Heading Back to London (Wednesday August 20 2014)

Fellaini Injured? (Wednesday August 20 2014)

Rojo Switch Almost Confirmed (Wednesday August 20 2014)

Panic Buys? (Tuesday August 19 2014)

Di Maria - A Last-Gasp Deal? (Tuesday August 19 2014)

Rojo - Another Update! (Tuesday August 19 2014)

Rooney Vows to Bounce Back! (Monday August 18 2014)

Archived Manchester United Articles

List All Vital United Articles
Have your say
Click here to suggest an article
Click here to suggest a poll

Vital Members League (view all)

1. TheFamousNo7 92
2. Kanchelskis 54
3. MotorMad 48
4. nordkap 12
5. ssopon273 2
6. kashere21 2
7. D_G 1

League Results (view all)

Latest Results
Man Utd 1 - 2 Swansea

League Table (view table)

Team P W D L GD Pts
11. Sunderland 1 0 1 0 0 1
12. WBA 1 0 1 0 0 1
13. Crystal Palace 1 0 0 1 -1 0
14. Man Utd 1 0 0 1 -1 0
15. Southampton 1 0 0 1 -1 0
16. Q.P.R. 1 0 0 1 -1 0
17. Stoke 1 0 0 1 -1 0

Breaking League News

Dzeko Pens Four Year Contract
Man City : 20/08/2014 21:19:00
Malky Deal Falls Flat?
Crystal Palace : 20/08/2014 21:04:00
Bennett Makes Loan Move
Aston Villa : 20/08/2014 20:43:00
What to Do About Nathan Ake?
Chelsea : 20/08/2014 18:06:00
players valuations were met.
Stoke : 20/08/2014 18:00:00

Current Site Poll (view all polls)

MOTM v Swansea?
Suggested By:  Red Boy
De Gea 9%
Smalling 0%
Jones 18%
Blackett 12%
Herrera 2%
Lingard 2%
Young 0%
Mata 1%
Rooney 15%
Hernandez 0%
Fletcher 0%
Nani 1%
Fellaini 0%
Januzaj 40%