Ferguson Knows That Barcelona Are Beatable
Because of the way that the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final played out, everyone is writing off Manchester United based on how their midfield failed to cope and offset Barcelona’s terrific tandem last time around.
Sir Alex Ferguson has already stated that he knows where it all went wrong, and only a fool would bet against him by not correcting that issue, however, he is not revealing how or what his game plan will be, which makes it the most interesting.
There are definitely ways to breakdown and disrupt Barca’s free-flowing, dominating possession style of play, and you can rest assure that the Gaffer will have precise, measured plan of attack.
It would take some great performances in their next two Barclays Premier League games for Sir Alex not to select the same starting XI that he deployed last two matches against Chelsea.
The Blues’ midfield, although inferior, has a very similar structure to the one the Catalan’s possess, and what did Sir Alex do against the Blues to defeat them three consecutive times?
First, he set out the quick Javier Hernandez and powerful Wayne Rooney to hound and harass the center-backs, which forced at least one of the center midfielders, probably Javier Mascherano, to play a bit deeper than they normally play to help out.
Theoretically, this could completely disrupt their understanding and fluent passing movements, because they are now starting their attack further back than they are used to. What happens then is that the United midfielders are then able to push further up the pitch to press the other two, and if they are off with their passing they are now against with full-backs and wingers joining the attack.
Secondly, Ferguson also made sure that the Chelsea full-backs, Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic, were pinned back and not able to be an outlet when the midfielders get into trouble on the ball.
Antonio Valencia and Ji-Sung Park were absolutely magnificent against the Pensioners in the last match. If they put in that type of display against Danny Alves and whomever is handed the start at left-back for Barcelona then it will suit United. Even if Nani plays, his two-footed trickery will be a cause for a concern as well – especially if Carlos Puyol is forced to full-back.
The player that has everybody quaking in their boots is Lionel Messi, and rightfully so. The guy has alarming pace and tight control with the ball on his foot, but his most underrated ability is his movement off the ball. To counteract that, Ferguson has to make sure that his defenders, and midfielders, are aware to his whereabouts at all time. As everyone has seen against Arsenal and Real Madrid, Messi just needs one split second to find an opening and he will punish you – no question, which brings up the final point.
Going forward, Xavi, Iniesta and Seydou Keita are three of the most well respected players in the world, because of their uncanny abilities on the ball – and off it, but Ferguson knows that his players must not fear them. Sir Alex has placed a tremendous amount trust on each and every player – especially at the back.
In a tight, title-shifting match against Chelsea, Sir Alex had no reservation about playing any of his so-called fringe defenders, and none of them let him, or the supporters, down. Fabio, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling all player their roles to perfection – or at least they made it seem that way.
It will be interesting to see who Ferguson chooses to shadow Messi, but do not be surprised if it is one of the da Silva twins. Although, the United boss might be a little gun shy since their tenacious style is often met by over eagerness, and that, depending on who you ask, cost the Reds last year in Europe.
Nonetheless, Sir Alex Ferguson knows that any team can beat any other team on any given day, and every Manchester United supporter should trust him to get it right this time around against Barcelona, though.
Submitted by The United Religion
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