- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On May 26, 2009
- 2 Comments
- FC Barcelona, Manchester United, UEFA Champions League
Editor’s Note: Geoff Reid appears on WVHooligan.com each week. Today he comes back to preview the Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United.
Team news: Rio Ferdinand has just today declared himself fit which is massive for Manchester United, especially for Nemanja Vidic who has looked shaky without his fellow center half. United defense picks itself with the evergreen Edwin Van der Sar in goal and the back four consisting of Patrice Evra at left back and Rafael at right back with Ferdinand and Vidic in the middle. What will be interesting is what Sir Alex Ferguson does with his midfield. Does he go with the always reliable Ji-Sung Park on the left wing, or does he go for Wayne Rooney who has looked good on the left? Cristiano Ronaldo will take his place on the right wing in what possibly could be his last game for the club. Michael Carrick will be the holding midfielder with his partner in central midfield most likely being Paul Scholes if Ferguson is going for a 4-4-2. Ferguson could also use Park on the left wing, have Carrick playing deep just in front of the back four, and have Scholes in the middle pushing forward to support a strike force of Carlos Tevez and Rooney in a 4-1-3-2 formation. Either way, United has plenty of options with Ryan Giggs, Dimitar Berbatov, Anderson, Nani and Danny Welbeck coming off the bench.
For Barcelona, Victor Valdes will have his hands full not only with United’s attack, but with some pieces of his defense missing. Eric Abidal is suspended for getting sent off against Chelsea in the semi final second leg even though it was nowhere near a red card. Also serving a suspension is Dani Alves who has a yellow card accumulation. Mexican National Team captain Rafa Marquez is out injured but that shouldn’t make much of a difference defensively, if anything, it should help the Catalans in that department, however, they will miss his passing. Thierry Henry and Andres Iniesta are in a race against time to be fit, but should be good to go. Pep Guardiola has a number of options for his defense with players missing. Expect Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Yaya Toure and Gabriel Milito to make up the back four. Xavi Hernandez and Seydou Keita should hold down the central midfield area with Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets if Iniesta is not a go starting out wide, but will tend to drift inside. Samuel Eto’o will get the nod up front with Henry if the Frenchman passes the fitness test. Either way, Guardiola has plenty of options off his bench with former Chelsea frontman Eidur Gudjohnsen and wonder kid Bojan Krkic available.
Sir Alex Ferguson vs Pep Guardiola: Over 30 years of managerial experience vs one year! Sir Alex has won everything their is in the game, and yet he’s still hungry for more. If he can guide United to back to back Champions League titles on top of three straight seasons winning the Premiership, it will certainly be a first. Money has most definitely helped him build his last two great sides, but nobody can argue his man management skills in getting his players to play as one team. Same must be said for Guardiola after Frank Rijkaard’s side looked a little out of sorts a year ago. Both sides hit a little rough patch at about the same time but came through it unscathed. Should be a very good tactical matchup between one of the greatest managers of all time and a young up and coming manager with potential.
Messi vs Ronaldo: Could this match decide who the best player in the world is? Possibly. Certainly it would go a long way for whoever will win FIFA World Player of The Year in December although I never understood that part about that award because the accomplishment is based on the season until May and not afterwords. Ronaldo last season scored 42 goals in all competitions, yet by the time Euro 2008 came around, by his standards, underperformed. These two should cross each others path’s quite often tomorrow night.
My Pick: It pains me to say it but I just don’t see how you can look past United here. Barcelona has defensive issues which makes it harder for them. I think it will be a close match, but the final score will be 2-1 United, possibly going into extra time.