Wednesday, May 27, 2009



The fever has reached the very top and even Google is dedicating the theme of the search engine to the UEFA Champions League 2009 finals. While I have to sleep early to get ready for the match. Here's the round up of what to be expected tonight. As I said in an earlier post, Barcelona's biggest weakness is defence as goalie Víctor Valdés can really blunder and let in extremely stupid goals, even in very important matches. Their strength is in midfield and offence so they have to make full use of it to overcome Manchester United. Manchester United are overall a stronger team with a more experienced coach and players. Manchester United have the edge but I want Barcelona to win to end the English domination in Europe and to complete a great season loaded with goals. There you have it.

Enjoy football everyone!

Barcelona vs Man Utd — how they line up

The Olympic Stadium in Rome, Italy will host tonight's epic Champions League final match between Barcelona and Manchester United — Reuters
ROME, May 27 — A look at the formations, strengths and weaknesses of Barcelona and Manchester United ahead of the Champions League final at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico tonight.


It would be a big surprise if Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola strays from the club’s traditional, offensive 4-3-3.

Manchester United are less tied to a set formation. Manager Alex Ferguson has frequently used the 4-3-3 to good effect, but if he decides to field Park Ji-sung on the right he may opt for a 4-4-2.


With a three-pronged strike force of Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry, backed by the creativity of Andres Iniesta and Xavi in midfield, the Spanish champions have unrivalled attacking potential. Iniesta’s stoppage-time equaliser in the semi-final second leg at Chelsea showed they are also a team that never gives up.

The English champions have an outstanding defence, are a more complete package overall and have that little bit of extra quality on the bench. They can also count on the cunning and experience of Ferguson, arguably the finest brain in world soccer, as well as the determination and confidence the Scot instils in the team.


Barcelona have compensated for fragility in defence this season with their sparkling goal feats, but suspensions to full backs Eric Abidal and Dani Alves, and the injury that has ruled out Rafael Marquez leave them looking vulnerable.

They also tend to struggle when Messi and Iniesta are kept under control and Guardiola’s inexperience may be exposed when pitted against master tactician Ferguson.

United have shown few weaknesses this season, although they do have less invention than Barca in midfield.


Guardiola will be forced to field a makeshift defence because of suspensions and injuries, which risks aggravating his side’s problems with loose marking, especially at set-pieces.

Versatile captain Carles Puyol is tipped to move across to the right flank with Yaya Toure used again at centre back and another converted midfielder, Seydou Keita, taking Abidal’s place on the left.

United’s defence should be at full strength with Rio Ferdinand expected to shake off a calf problem to take his place in the centre alongside Nemanja Vidic. Frenchman Patrice Evra, rated one of the top left backs in the world at the moment, is likely be called upon to stop Messi.

United keeper Edwin van der Sar has had a fine campaign and went 14 league matches without conceding a goal between November and February, but Barca’s Victor Valdes has not been immune from the occasional error.


Iniesta’s ability to shake off a knock will be key to Barca’s chances as they are not the same team without the man whose goal against Chelsea put them in the final.

If Sergio Busquets is employed as the holding midfielder he will need to show maturity beyond his 20 years to avoid being overawed by the occasion.

United may have a tad less inspiration in centre of the park, but Park Ji-sung’s bottomless energy and Michael Carrick’s ability to read the game could swing the match by suffocating the Catalan’s sources of play. Ryan Giggs is favourite to come in for the suspended Darren Fletcher with Anderson likely to complete the midfield.


United’s defence will need to be at its formidable best to keep out Messi, Eto’o and Henry, who is expected to be fit after a knee problem.

But the English side’s expected starting pair of England’s Wayne Rooney and Portugal’s World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo also packs a punch.

They also have plenty of firepower in reserve, with Dimitar Berbatov and Carlos Tevez likely to be waiting their chance on the bench. — Reuters

United happy to be wearing white…just like 1991

Manchester United’s Red Devils will be wearing angelic white in Wednesday’s Champions League final, just how Alex Ferguson likes it.

Barcelona are the nominal home team for the ‘dream final’ in Rome and as their famous claret and blue tops clash with United’s usual red and their first choice blue away kit, the holders will wander onto the pristine Stadio Olimpico pitch in white.

“We’ll wear white, we are very happy with that,” Ferguson beamed.

Of course United wore white the last time they met and beat Barca in a European final, the 1991 Cup Winners’ Cup showpiece in English clubs’ first year back in Europe after Heysel.

Former Barcelona striker Mark Hughes scored twice in the 2-1 win in Rotterdam.

What’s your prediction this time?

Fabio Capello: May The Best Team Win Between Manchester United & Barcelona
The England boss expects a balanced affair between the “most entertaining teams in the world”.
27 May 2009 08:31:53

Reigning champions Manchester United and Barcelona go head-to-head in tonight’s Champions League final at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome and England coach Fabio Capello feels the match has the potential to become an all-time classic.
“There are so many champions who can turn around a game,” Capello said to La Gazzetta dello Sport. “They are certainly the most entertaining teams in the world and I hope the final will be as much

“Manchester United are a very solid side and are confident of their strength as English and European champions. All the players seem in fine form and I hope that Rio Ferdinand will recover in time [to play], as he is a key man.

“Barca have some problems at the back with [Dani] Alves and [Eric] Abidal suspended, Silvinho should step in, but he is stronger going forward than in defence.”

Capello’s Milan thrashed the Catalans 4-0 in 1994, but the ex-Roma and Juventus tactician feels it will be a tight encounter at the Olimpico tonight.

“Barca were arrogant and took to the pitch thinking they were already the winners,” explained ‘Don Fabio’.

“There is not a hint of arrogance in both sides this time around and I don’t think there will be a big score. It is a balanced match with [Lionel] Messi’s creativity and [Samuel] Eto’o and [Thierry] Henry’s pace. But the Red Devils also have lots of potential up front and perhaps one of the best back lines in the world.

“Who will I be rooting for? Some of my Lions play for Manchester, but [Barcelona coach Josep] Guardiola played under me at Roma. May the best team win.”

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