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Champions League Final Preview

Sid Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memories of Rome 2009 is what almost every Manchester United fan associates whenever Barcelona is mentioned, and it still causes me to wince, memories of the team being ripped apart effortlessly by Barca on that night, and the fact that we were rolled over like tame mice makes the defeat still haunt us.

Two years on Sir Alex and the team have a chance at redemption and erase all memories of that horrible night in Rome. But the challenge that faces us is a more formidable and organised Barcelona team that have been dominating the La Liga for the past few seasons. The thrashing they handed out to their closest rivals in Spain, Real Madrid in the El Classico last year is an example of how devastating their team can be. Pep Guardiola’s team are what Wenger’s hopes his bunch of kids can be.

Barca are capable of out-passing any team in the world, and we’d be kidding ourselves if we think we can try and beat Barca at their own game. But that doesn’t make them unbeatable either, Barca without the ball are vulnerable as any other team. Their back line might boast the likes of Pique, Puyol and Alves, but Puyol is getting old and isn’t the quickest player on the pitch, and neither is nor is Pique. While Dani Alves might be one of the best attacking full backs in the world, his defending is something we look to exploit, especially on the counter attack. This is where Sir Alex has to make a few important decisions about his starting XI, who plays and who sits on the bench.

For me, Valencia has almost surely sealed the right wing position for the final, the effort he puts in to cover his full back, , and also his direct running and brilliant crosses make him pivotal to our attack and defence. That leaves Sir Alex to Choose between Nani and Park Ji-Sung for the left winger role, a tough decision but one I see favouring Park because of his tireless play and all energy display. Sir Alex has to weigh his options between playing someone who can keep Dani Alves at bay or take advantage of him being out of position?

Another question that’ll be on Sir Alex’s mind will be whether to sacrifice Hernandez for a 3 man midfield or go with his trusted 4-4-2 formation. An extra midfielder might help contain the Barca midfield, but it can also backfire on us like it did in Rome, playing a 4-4-2 provides us with extra firepower upfront, but if our midfield isn’t up for the game then we will surely get overrun. We will most likely see Sir Alex stick with the 4-4-2, but see Rooney play a deeper role, more than usual.

We probably possess one the best defences in the world, and whether Fabio or Rafael start, I’m sure they’ll be more than up to the task. We also hold a trump card in the form of Hernandez, his pace and movement has been a problem that most teams struggle to handle. With Rooney thriving in his role as a Trequartista, he will be our key player in this fixture.

This fixture will be a showdown between two tactical geniuses, a very talented youngster against an experienced and wily old timer. I believe this game will come down to tactics, Sir Alex would have learnt a lot from Rome and will do his utmost to ensure that there is no repeat of Rome.

This United has unfairly come under criticism this season and unjustly called a weak side, but these critics don’t realise is what United lack in big names they more than make up with team spirit and hard work. The team is no longer built around one man, they now play as a team, and any one of the players on the pitch can come up with match winning performances like they have over the entire season. Barca would be stupid to underestimate us, and though they might be favourites with the press and media, I think we stand an excellent chance at winning the title.

This game could end up being one of the classic Champions League final matches; it is rightly a match between two of the best teams in the world. And both teams have played brilliantly over the period of the season and deserve to be in the final. Like every other United fan in the world, I will be rooting for a win and I think Sir Alex will show his tactical acumen and lead us to our 4th Champions league title.

The first goal will be vital, but if we do score early on, we would be stupid to sit back and try to defend; we must fight the entire 90 minutes of the game and get in Barca’s faces. I’m going for a 2-1 win to us, with Hernandez scoring at least one of the goals.

Expected Formation: 4-4-1-1

Expected Lineup:
 Van der Sar; Fabio, Rio, Vidic, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Park; Rooney; Hernandez


joshimukard said...

Tough luck, mate. I'm disappointed that we lost.

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