Champions League Final Preview
So here we are. Returning to the very ground where our season got off to a good start when we won the Community Shield against Chelsea. This time though what awaits us is a dual with Barcelona, a dual that pits United against the side many perceive as being the best club side around. There`s no arguing that this final has the potential to be a classic and there`s no arguing that we`re cast as the under-dogs, but you can debate long into the night as to whether we`ll emerge victorious, only time will tell I`d infer.
The final is a dream final for UEFA, pitching together the two best teams in the competition against each other in a dream final.
Paul Scholes, likely to be on the bench at Wembley, echoes those thoughts talking to the media, when he remarked,
"There is no doubt the two best teams have made it to the final.
"Barcelona are the ultimate. They are what we all look to and want to play like."
"But our football can be just as good as theirs at times. We have a lot of quality to."
"Both teams want to go forward and score goals, so I don`t think anyone could ask for a bigger or a better final."
They probably couldn`t but, after losing to Barcelona in 2009 there is a hint of revenge in the air with Scholes also remarking,
"There is a determination to make sure that doesn`t happen again."
"It wasn`t a nice night and the summer afterwards felt very long. This time we intend to at least give it a go."
That`s the spirit!
Manchester United Team News:
Sir Alex Ferguson will have mulled over in his mind, numerous times, the anticipated starting eleven. Several news sources have already gone out on a limb and suggested that it`ll be Van der Sar, Rafael, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Park, Carrick, Giggs, Valencia, Rooney and Hernandez and it`s hard to see where, if any, any changes to that suggested eleven will come.
The final, unfortunately, has come too early for Darren Fletcher and the most he can hope for is a place on the bench. Another confined to the bench will be Michael Owen who, if United win, will collect the one club medal missing from his collection. Another two, Dimitar Berbatov and Nani, will be disappointed that they may possibly not make the starting eleven but they give United some fantastic options from the bench.
With regards to formations, the inference is that United will start with a 4-3-3 formation with Valencia pushing forward alongside Rooney and Hernandez but if Barcelona take the lead they`ll revert to a more solid 4-4-2 with Valencia dropping back to support Park, Carrick and Giggs in midfield.
Player to watch: Ryan Giggs
Ryan has been in the papers for all the wrong reasons this week but is there a better way to answer his critics than to produce the performance of the season and inspire United to victory? The winning goal might silence a few critics as well Ryan!
Barcelona Team News:
We expect Barcelona to field the following starting eleven:-
1-Victor Valdes; 2-Daniel Alves, 3-Gerard Pique, 5-Carles Puyol, 22-Eric Abidal; 16-Sergio Busquets, 6-Xavi, 8-Andres Iniesta; 17-Pedro, 10-Lionel Messi, 7-David Villa.
Player to watch: Lionel Messi
Quite simply, in my opinion; the best player in the world, by far! Messi has the ability to change a game in an instant and to mesmerize the best defenders out there with his dazzling skills. If United can keep Messi quiet we may just all have smile son our faces come late Saturday evening. If not………well it could be one of those nights!
Although Lionel Messi remains, in our opinions, the great threat, Nemanja Vidic is perfectly right when he remarked to the media ahead of the game,
"Messi is a great player and he`s really hard to stop."
"But I would not underestimate the other players they have like Xavi and Andres Iniesta, they`re really good players who can produce good performances in the vital games."
It`s not just about one player. It`s about stopping Barcelona as a team."
Match Facts & Stats
Form goes out of the window in a game like this. It promises to be like no other.
The sides may have clashed back in 2009 with Barcelona coming out on top, but things change so quickly.
Sir Alex Ferguson will be perfectly aware that United became the first English side to win the European Cup, at Wembley, in 1968, but we should also remember that Barcelona have also won the trophy on this famous old site.
Previous encounters between the two sides have been close affairs, apart from when we were humbled 4-0 in November 1994, perhaps you`ll have your own memories about the five close encounters listed below:-
•United 2 Barcelona 1 May 1991 Cup Winner Cup Final
•United 3 Barcelona 3 Sept 1998 Champions League Qualifier
•Barcelona 3 United 3 November 1998 the reciprocating fixture from the group game above.
•United 1 Barcelona 0 April 2008 semi-final
•Barcelona 2 United 0 May 2009 Champions League Final
The man in charge is Viktor Kassai (Hungary)
Barcelona, according to the bookmakers, are the favourties to win. The football they play can be mesmerizing at times but United will not be fazed. It`s important that United don`t concede early, it`s important that we don`t try to move away from our natural game, important that we don`t sit too deep and very important that we control the middle of the park. It`s important that we don`t get frustrated when the opposition have the ball for long periods as they probe and try to open us up, it`s important that we harry the opposition, press then hard and let them know, through fair tackling, that we`re not cannon fodder ready to roll over for them. But, the most IMPORTANT thing of all is that when we get presented with those inevitable chances, we take them. Only then and only then, will we emerge as the winners!
This really is it! It`s the end of the 2010/2011 season. Roll on 2011/2012 is all I`ll say