Barcelona – Manchester United

The final game is in front. Barca, formally host, had an excellent season in Spain, wining both titles, league and cup. Their superiority was visible in Madrid where they humiliated an arch rivals, scoring six times! Fans were suspicious when Frank Riijkard was substituted with a coach of younger selections at the club. But, Guardiola got rid of Deco and Ronaldinho (biggest stars from previous season) and made a squad younger. Attacking performance (scored 30 goals in 12 CL games, btw.) deserved admiration of whole football Europe. Wining an European title would be a crown of excellent season. But, won’t be easy. First reason is the opponent. Since beating Arsenal in the 2006 Champions League final, they have played eight European matches against English opposition and won just once. Big problem is when someone cut their passing play. Whatever Spanish side says, admitting, or not, they were outplayed in semi-final. If referee allows tough game from the start with many fouls and challenges, they’ll be in a big trouble. Eto’o, Messi and Henry can’t get a ball, midfield already has a player less (formation 4-3-3) and defense is fighting against the storm. Here we come to the second big problem. Three very important players won’t play. Abidal and Dani Alves are suspended, while Marquez and Milito are injured. It means Puyol and Silvinho will be on the sides, Toure and Pique as the center backs. But, that’s not all, Henry and Iniesta have injury problems. They’re expected to play, but the question is, are they fully fit. 

United take on Barcelona on with the aim of becoming the first team to defend the Champions League title and to join the clubs who did it in the previous format of competition (1956-60 Real Madrid, 1961-62 Benfica, 1964-65 Inter Milan, 1971-73 Ajax, 1974-76 Bayern, 1977-78 Liverpool, 1979-80 Nottingham Forest FC). Sir Alex Ferguson and lads are superior in England, wining the Premier League again and easily. There are some opinions this team is the best in United’s history. In the previous CL round, they passed Porto and humiliated Arsenal. Tonight, their opponent will be much harder, one of the best European teams. Sir Alex knows what is the weakest link in Barca’s machine and will try to use their wounded defense line. He has no worries about missings, just suspended Fletcher (will be substituted by Park more likely than Anderson). But, the real secret is condition of Rio Ferdinand’s injury. He says he is “fine”, but he has been out for three weeks with a calf injury. If he’s not fully fit, there will be two possible problems. First, half-injured Rio will have a task to stop the best strikers in Europe. Second, if Jonny Evans will substitute him (in this case, over is very possible). It is very important for them what criteria referee will establish from the start. Will he allow tough challenges, or will cut the play for easy touching. 

I give a clear advantage to United. My reasons are nearly similar like in semi-final. 1.English style of play against Spanish, 2. Ferguson against Guardiola, 3. Barca's defense. Simply, Man.Utd. is stronger. But, at the same time, two reasons for limiting the stake. First, won’t say a big wisdom, but this is final and everything is possible, as always. Second, again unknown referee. Ovrebo didn’t see Pique handed the ball from two meters distance. Won’t write about the things outside the football, but really hope Swiss Massimo Busacca will be on the game level. Expekt offers 2.70. United to win and Rooney to score.  


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