Champs League Final Preview: United Looking For Revenge At Wembley
With another fantastic Premier League season over there is just the small matter of the Champions League final to attend to. This season saw Manchester United clinch a record breaking 19th title and are set to fly the Premiership flag in Europe’s top prize final for the third time in four years. Since the 2009 final in which Barcelona comprehensively beat the red devils thanks to goals from Samuel Eto and Lionel Messi many believe that Fergusons current crop are worse off than they were in Rome, however Fergie has installed the utmost of winning mentality in his squad and there is nothing they love more than upsetting the odds.
Barcelona if anything from 2009 have improved with a deeper squad including Mascherano, Affellay and Villa now in their ranks whilst still holding on to their core players like Xavi, Iniesta and Messi. After securing a third successive La Liga title over the new age Galacticos of Madrid, Barca are widely regarded as one of if not the best club teams of all time.
It’s never wise to write off Ferguson and any of his teams during his 25 year reign at United although not many of his teams have went into finals under so much scrutiny let alone under dogs. So where will all the key battles be in what is lining up to be an epic encounter between two of footballs most dominant forces.
The first obvious key battle will be containing the world’s best player Lionel Messi. Defence must first begin with attack, assuming Ferguson goes with Park and Valencia as his two wide men it is vital that they support the fullbacks when defending. After Parks rampant performance against Chelsea, the Korean is perfect in a game such as this he relishes the big games and is United’s secret weapon as he has an engine that runs overtime for 90 minutes. As well as popping up with the odd important goal Park hurries other players and will aim to force the Barca pass masters Xavi and Iniesta into making mistakes. His relentless running and tackling will need to be at full peak on Saturday as against Messi he could be employed as a second full back rather than a winger. Antonio Valencia has been a revelation at Old Trafford since his return from a serious leg injury and the Ecuadorian showed his defensive skills earlier in the season when he filled in at right back. Strong and very quick Valencia will need to apply both in attack and defence in order to rule his flank against either Messi or Pedro.
When trying to defend against a player of Messi’s calibre David Villa is often forgot about. Arguably the World’s best striker he spear heads the Barca attack feeding off scraps and creating chances of his own. Ferdinand and Vidic will have to be top of their game to keep him at bay but the United defensive duo are the most formidable in the world and will now what to expect. They are the base of United’s success and Ferguson will have total confidence in the pair’s ability to keep it tight at the back.
Ferguson faces a selection crisis in the middle of the field arguably Barca’s strongest position. Darren Fletcher has just recovered from a virus and will face a late fitness test which leaves Giggs and Carrick the two best candidates to play in the middle. With Xavi and Iniesta having an almost telepathic instinct to find each other in space both United men will have their work cut out.
However Giggs has transformed into a more composed playmaker with age and will have the experience to handle the occasion. His vision and creativity will be vital to helping United set up attacks themselves. A constant question mark hangs over Michael Carrick and whether her is “Manchester United quality,” but the quiet Englishman has enjoyed his best displays in Europe and has a wide range of passing in his locker. If he can emulate his performance against Chelsea in the quarter finals he should be able to make an impression on the game.
Many believe that the key to beating Barcelona is getting at their defence as they are never put under much pressure due to their overwhelming possession in most games. Puyol and ex United player Pique have seem to become a formidable duo and are more than confident when they have the ball at their feet. But with Wayne Rooney asking questions the pair will be tested. Rooney himself is world class and the more time he spends on the ball the better United do. With a great eye for passing and a wicked right foot Rooney will be looking to show the world just how good he is.
However Rooney isn’t the only player Barca’s defence need worry about. Manchester United’s newest star Javier Hernandez or Chicharito has made a thumping impact during his first season at Old Trafford and what he does best is score goals. Not quite the complete striker as he lacks in the creativity department but has a sharp eye for goal. The little pea never stops running and always makes space for himself as well as popping up at the right place at the right time. He is sure to give the Barca defence headaches all night.
Players on the pitch all know their roles but it’s not always on the pitch the game is won. Ferguson has relished the opportunity to take on Barca again after their defeat last time out in Rome. This is the game Fergie has been preparing for ever since the final in 2009 and the master of mind games and tactics will have his side decked out to compete in every aspect of Saturday night’s final. If United go on to lift their fourth European title it will be down to Alex Ferguson as much as the players.
With arguably an advantage being that the final is held in Wembley, United will be grabbing any opportunity with both hands. Having lost to this team last time out the hunger as always will be there as well as wanting to thwart the doubters who called this United side not “vintage.”
Also being Edwin Van Der Sar’s final game the whole club will want to send the Dutch stopper out on a high so in these aspects United will think they have the mental edge. Looking to the bench United can also have some confidence with Michael Owen promising one big goal this season and the Premier Leagues top goal scorer Dimitar Berbatov could also inject some class and composure. Ferguson will know how important his subs are after the 1999 final. (And Solsjkaer has won it!)
All in all the game promises to be a thriller and will be hard fought and I’m sure deservedly won by the best team on the night let’s just hope that for United fans and for the Premier League Fergies men can clinch another trophy.
Submitted by Football Friends
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