On May 28th 2011 the World’s ‘best’ team, Barcelona, travel to Wembley Stadium in London to take on the power of Manchester United. After destroying Real Madrid and Schalke in their semi-finals, these two giants of World football will do battle for the premier prize in club football. On display will be some of the planet’s most talented players in Xavi, Iniesta, Pique, Villa, Bojan, Mascherano, Alves, Rooney, Vidic, Ferdinand, Hernandez, Berbatov, Van der Saar, Evra, and, of course, the very best of all in the Argentinean genius Lionel Messi.
Barcelona, given their comprehensive victory over United in 2009 and their awesome pedigree over the past few seasons, will go into the final as strong favorites to lift the trophy and conquer Europe for a second time in three years. Their La Liga form has again been outstanding this season as they have pulled away from the big spending Ronaldo / Kaka led Real Madrid at the top of the table. David Villa, after a slightly slow start by his very high standards, has started regularly find the net and shown the form he did for previous club Valencia. Add to that the masterful passing and possession of Iniesta and Xavi, the vision, skill and finishing of Messi and it’s easy to see why Barca score so many goals. Lionel Messi has scored 52 goals so far this season in all competitions – that, by anyone’s standards is amazing and will be giving Alex Ferguson and his players countless sleepless nights.
Manchester United’s form has gathered pace as the season has progressed. After a slow start, with a number of draws against lower table sides, they have established themselves at the summit of the Premier League table going into the remaining 3 games of the season. They face a massive test against title rivals Chelsea on Sunday 08th May at Old Trafford. Should they win or draw that match they will be highly likely to win the Premier League title, which would see them surpass Liverpool’s record for the most league titles.
In Wayne Rooney and Hernandez United have two strikers in red hot form. So much so that they are keeping top scorer Berbatov on the sidelines. It will be interesting to see how Alex Ferguson addresses Barcelona’s midfield masters in the final. I expect him to pack the midfield with five players, and play Rooney alone upfront. That may mean Hernandez is limited to a cameo role.
This game has all the ingredients to go down as one of the greatest ever Champions League Finals. Will Manchester United gain revenge for the mauling they received in the 2009 Final, or will Fergie mastermind a victory over the seemingly unplayable Messi and Co? Come the 28th May 2011 and all will be revealed on the magnificent Wembley pitch. I for one can’t wait!