BARCELONA SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 14: David Villa (R) of Barcelona celebrates scoring his sides second goal with his teammate Lionel Messi during the UEFA Champions League group D match between Barcelona and Panathinaikos on September 14 2010 in Barcelona Spain. Barcelona won the match 5-1. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Both of the teams about to face each other in the Champions League on Saturday are looking to be double winners. Both Manchester United and FC Barcelona won their domestic leagues and were knocked out of their domestic cups by arch rivals.
While Barca are favorites for the European title, you’d be pretty naive to count Manchester United out of the race.
If you had witnessed Manchester United’s EPL season you’d know how difficult a team they have been to beat all season especially at home, and while the final won’t be taking place at Old Trafford, Wembley is as close to a home final as anyone can really get.
I don’t expect them to just sit back in the final but I know them to be very capable of patience off the ball. Patience is something they will need against Barcelona who are known to keep the ball usually for at least 70% of the time.
In situations where Manchester United see very little of the ball they can be murderous on the break and clinical in their shooting so the Barcelona defense must to stay alert. Manchester United’s chance at the title hinges on their ability to take their chances. If they aren’t sharp on that end, well their chance is slim.
The game plan for Barcelona will not change. We’ll likely see Barcelona’s strongest starting line-up barring any training injuries or sudden illness leading up to the final. Keeping possession for long periods of the game is almost a given, but Barca can at times be terribly profligate in front of goal. Against a side as defensively strong as Manchester United it may be particularly difficult for them to get a clear shot or to pick their passes around the box as they usually do. Not to mention the United goalkeeper, he’s pretty good.
If the Barca players play as well as we're used to, things should run smoothly. It's important that they be more positive in their possession rather than back and forth passing it in the middle of the park (at least in the interest of keeping the match interesting), keeping the pressure on Manchester United as much as possible making the possession stats more meaningful with a high number of shots, on target preferably.
If both teams come out strong and play up to their standards we can expect a great match. Most probably not a flurry of goals but it’ll be tension filled, if not only because it is the Champions League final it’s also two of the best sides in football.
These two teams have met in this situation before but plenty has changed since then. I personally cannot wait to see the conclusion of this Champions League season. Like Lionel Messi said "it’s a kind of dream final." Well in my dreams there’s another team there but that’s beside the point!
That is all, until next time.
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