Tomorrow the world will come together for the Champions League final. We get to see Manchester United and their incredibly well-rounded squad take on the offensive explosiveness of FC Barcelona. I believe that this was the best final UEFA could have hoped for. Some wanted to see a rematch of last years final between ManU and Chelsea, but if you ask me I’ve seen them enough. They are one of the best rivalries in all of soccer (or football) but we see them at least twice very year and maybe more in the FA and Carling Cups. The Champions League is about seeing the matchups we can only dream about the rest of the season.
Manchester United has already proven themselves superior to Chelsea over the course of the grueling English Premier League schedule. Barcelona proved their dominance over arch nemesis Real Madrid in La Liga, capped by their impressive 6-2 victory a couple of weeks ago. So now we get the undisputed best team from the best league (Manchester United) versus the undisputed best team from the second best league (Barcelona). What more could you ask for? Upsets or longshots are great, but sometimes its good to just see the best versus the best. That is what we will get on May 27th in Rome.
Here is a short look at the possible starting lineups for this epic showdown.
Manchester United Barcelona ADV.
Coach Alex Ferguson Pep Guardiola ManU
Goalie Edwin van der Saar Victor Valdes ManU
Left Back Patrice Evra Sylvinho ManU
Left Centerback Nemanja Vidic Gerard Pique ManU
Right Centerback Rio Ferdinand Gnegneri Yaya Toure ManU
Right Back John O’Shea Carlos Puyol Barca
Left Mid Cristiano Ronaldo Xavi ManU
Left CenterMid Michael Carrick Andres Iniesta Barca
Right CenterMid Ryan Giggs Sergi Busquets ManU
Right Mid Anderson Lionel Messi Barca
Left Striker Wayne Rooney Samuel Eto’o Barca
Right Striker Ji-Sung Park Thierry Henry Barca
As you can see I give the offensive advantage to Barcelona and the defensive and goal tending advantage to Manchester. I also feel that Manchester has more weapons coming off the bench as late subs. Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov are two excellent players that would start on most teams. . As far as suspensions go Barcelona will be hurt far more by their losses of Eric Abidal and Dani Alves, than ManU will be by losing Darrin Fletcher. The losses of Alves and Abidal really sting by making the backline even more of a trouble spot. I think that in the end Manchester United will pull the game out because they truly have no weaknesses. Their offense is not as dynamic as Barcelona’s but with Rooney and Ronaldo leading the charge no one would doubt their chances of putting 4 or 5 goals in the net on any given day. Barcelona’s backline will give it their best and their pride will make this a memorable game, but in the end they won’t be able to keep the ball out of the back of the goal. On the other side of the pitch the experience of Ferdinand, Vidic, and van der Saar in big games will prove to be enough to neutralize the Barcelona offense. Sir Alex will take home two trophies in a row and become the first in the modern era of the Champions League to do so; and be the first since AC Milan in 88 and 89 overall.
My prediction: Manchester United 2 Barcelona 1
Ronaldo ’71 Eto’o ’86