Regardless of your allegiance I think it’s fair to say that the two sides who will battle it out for the Champions League title in Rome come the end of May are definitely the two most impressive sides in Europe right now and in many ways it is the final everyone wanted, obviously if you a fan of one of the teams who almost made it you would have wanted it otherwise but you would still have to concede that this is the ideal final in many ways.
It is also a tough one to call. Obviously Barca have one hell of an attacking line-up and as they displayed at Stamford Bridge they have the cash to swing the officials decisions in their favour (but I jest), what I meant to say is they have the never say die attitude that could stand them in good stead for the battle against United.
Man United have an efficient streak to go with their top notch side. They have a sturdy backline a tough midfield and a strong front line, and in many ways they are the ideal side to mount such a challenge. Plus they have the best squad in the world, with world class replacements for most positions on the pitch. They also have John O’Shea! A player who plays with a smile on his face that seems to illustrate his joy at somehow managing to forge a living as a professional footballer at the biggest club on the planet.
It’s the kind of game that could finish 4-4 or 0-0, and it is bound to be a very close game and one for all the neutrals to enjoy and by enjoy I mean support Barcelona in the face of pure evil (and again I jest).
The key battle could well be in the midfield. In the likes of Xavi and Iniesta the Catalan side has the magical ability to put in the key pass for the likes of Messi and Eto’o but also have the steel and determination to break down opposition attacks. This could well be where Sir Alex misses Darren Fletcher, a player hugely improved from the one that used to make many wonder just what secret he had over Ferguson in order to continue to get the occasional start in the team. Paul Scholes could fill in manfully but he has been pretty inconsistent this term and it will be for Michael Carrick to put in a good show to help keep the Barca attacks to a minimum.
This has been billed by many as the Cristiano Ronaldo vs Leo Messi show, but I think that is just one high profile battle of many that will be on display. I have a sneaking suspicion that this will prove to be the Portuguese star’s last game for the club but I have no evidence to back this up, and am more akin to a dodgy curry, i.e. it’s just a gut feeling I have.
So who will out in the end, well if I was a man of many clichés I would say that I hope that football is the winner but I do believe that Man United will get the upper hand but hopefully it will be a great game for it is certainly the final that most wanted to see once their own team had been eliminated, if indeed they were in with a shout in the first place.
If I was a betting man, and of course I am, I would bet on there being just enough time added on to let United win in injury time and my money is on Tevez to be the Solskjaer of the night ten years and a day since that fateful night in Barcelona!