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Manchester United v Barcelona: Champions League Final Preview

Well only if you’ve been stuck in Mars or lost somewhere in an Amazonian rainforest for the last month, would you not be aware that tomorrow night, is the day of destiny in European Club Football. 

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Well only if you’ve been stuck in Mars or lost somewhere in an Amazonian rainforest for the last month, would you not be aware that tomorrow night, is the day of destiny in European Club Football. 

It’s the day which will hold so much importance and one that will be a momentous day in World Football yet alone here in Europe.

Of course tomorrow night, Wembley Stadium – the home of football to many people – is the location for the showpiece that is the Champions League Final, which see’s of course our beloved Manchester United take on Barcelona.

There of course is a sense of ‘destiny’ and ‘romance’ looking ahead to tomorrow’s game. The old Wembley stadium was of course the setting for Manchester United’s first European Cup way back in 1968.

Barcelona also claimed their first European Cup at the old historic stadium in 1992 when they beat a good Sampdoria side (which featured a then unknown Roberto Mancini) thanks to a Ronald Koeman free-kick.

When you add into the mix, that down the years we’ve had some classic games in Europe against Barca, from our 1991 Cup Winners Cup victory in Rotterdam to the two 3-3 draw’s we shared against them back in 1998.

Of course it’s the dream final across Europe, as the Champions of England face the Champions of Spain. What more could the neutral ask for?

For United fans, it would be a terrific way to end the season with the club claiming their fourth European Cup. For a team labelled as being ‘not that great’ earlier in the season by the press and several Premier League managers including Harry Redknapp, it would be a great way to prove those doubters wrong once again.

Two years ago in Rome, despite our frantic start where Ronaldo and Park had chances to score, Pep Guardiola’s team deservedly ran out winners thanks to goals from Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi. 

Ever since that night, this current Barca team has gone from strength to strength as despite coming up short last year in the semi-finals to Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan, they have gone on to play the kind of football that most teams could only do in their fans wildest dreams.

At times they’ve simply mesmerised their opponents, with their quick passing game ripping teams apart within half an hour. Unlike other dominant teams who perhaps would settle for winning 2/3-0, this current Barcelona continues to entertain the football world, scoring seemingly breathtaking goals week after week.

Of course Barcelona due to their outstanding form go into the game as the favourites, as from the out-set it will be hard for us to contain Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Messi for the whole game. However it’s not as if we don’t have some good players ourselves who could cause Barca some problems?

With a hard-working midfield full of energy in guys like Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs, Antonio Valenica, Park Ji-Sung and Nani all likely to be involved in the game, Barcelona will have to make sure that they’re concentrating at the back.

We also I believe have a chance against them at set-pieces as if Giggsy can put some good deliveries  into their box, with our good headers of the ball like Rooney, Hernandez and even Nemanja Vidic coming up from the back, we could test them out in that department more than most teams in La Liga do.

If we can start well and get them under pressure right from the off, it could be interesting to see how Barca respond as they are not usually on the backfoot in games.

Then again at the same-time we can’t go all out to attack and will have to be organised and concentrated at the back, after all the way Barca play within seconds they can create a scoring chance.

At the moment it looks as if Fabio da Silva will start the final ahead of his twin Rafael at right back which a month or so ago would have seemed a strange decision. However with Rafael getting injured at the wrong time, Fabio has slotted in and has played well with the youngster shining recently in both games against Schalke and Chelsea.

On paper alike any final this will be a tough game. But if we work hard and the boys up front can take the chances that they get we will have a very good chance. As ever in cup finals, whoever scores first will be important.

If we can go ahead, it will mean Barca will have to obviously push forward to get back on level terms and they may be open to conceding another.

If they strike first, well it will be in their comfort zone and it will play right into the hands of Xavi and Iniesta. Of course this time around if we do a goal behind, we’re learn from Rome and not let them keep hold of the ball as easily.

Whatever happens tomorrow, we have had a fantastic season and even if we do not claim our fourth European Cup, United fans, players and staff can still hold their heads up high and look forward to next season.

It’s to close to call this one, it really is. I’d like to say that we will win it, but with Messi on the pitch it’s impossible to rule out Barca.

By Adam Dennehey – @ADennehey87

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