UEFA Champions League Final Preview – Manchester United vs Barcelona – (Saturday 7.45pm)
After a tremendously exciting, dramatic & action packed journey which saw the Champions League start way back in June 2010, the big moment of truth has arrived with two of european football’s super-heavyweight contenders, Manchester United & Barcelona set to do battle to win the Champions League & claim the greatest prize available in club football.
Wembley Stadium is a a magnificent stage for this year’s Champions League Final and now it rests between the giants of Manchester United & Barcelona to see which team can best hold their nerve on this momentus occasions & produce the necessary quality, team spirit & desire to claim the prize that every team in europe dreams of winning, no matter their previous history or success, the Champions League is the ultimate prize.
For UEFA & indeed the entire footballing world this is a dream final with Manchester United & Barcelona unquestionably the biggest names in club football today & certainly the best two teams seen anywhere in europe, maybe the world, this season & everything is in place for this repeat of the 2009 Final to possibly be a truly great, classic final that will be remembered for years to come.
Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United & Pep Guardiola of Barcelona both bring their high quality squads into this showpiece event knowing they have the necessary talent & qualities within their squads to achieve their goals & win the Champions League but equally they both know & have massive respect for each others squads facing the reality that this is the biggest test either side could face & so the deciding factor could well be which side handles that test the best on the night.
The magnitude & intensity of this clash, the incredible mix of experience, quality & sheer talent that both Manchester United & Barcelona bring to this match is remarkable & the vast capabilities of both managers makes this Final an incredibly tough one to call & indeed one that could well go either way with the only certainty being the quality on offer, both Manchester United & Barcelona have won this great competitions 3 times before but who will make it 4 this time around?
I have had a good look at the likely set ups of both teams, their strengths & weaknesses, the likely tactical approaches of both sides & indeed the statistical records of both Manchester United & Barcelona in this years competition & based on all of that here are my own honest thoughts on the match & the betting recommendations that I feel offer value & worth consideration:
Key Statistics for Manchester United & Barcelona in this season’s Champions League:
Group Stage Records:
Manchester United:- played 6, 4 wins & 2 draws, 7 goals scored & 1 goal conceded
Barcelona:- played 6, 4 wins & 2 draws, 14 goals scored & 3 goals conceded
Knock-out phase records:
Manchester United:- played 6, 5 wins & 1 draw, 11 goals scored & 3 goals conceded
Barcelona:- played 6, 4 wins, 1 draw & 1 defeat, 13 goals scored & 5 goals conceded
Manchester United:- played 12, 9 wins & 3 draws, 18 goals scored & 4 goals conceded – Unbeaten, 8 clean sheets in 12 matches & no away goals conceded
Barcelona:- played 12, 8 wins, 3 draws & 1 defeat, 27 goals scored & 8 goals conceded, 1 defeat & only 5 clean sheets in 12 matches
Manchester United vs Barcelona – (Saturday 7.45pm)
Manchester United vs Barcelona reads like a dream final on paper & really does have every single ingredient required to turn that dream into reality & produce what could be a sensational final that will be remembered for years but calling which way it will go is incredibly tough.
Manchester United 3 Champions League titles, Barcelona 3 Champions League titles, Sir Alex Ferguson, vast experience, unrivalled & unprecedented domestic success & 2 Champions League successes on his CV against Pep Guardiola’s great success in this competition as both player & manager and both Ferguson & Guardiola have incredible tactical awareness to go with it so no split to be found there either.
In terms of playing talent then Manchester United & Barcelona look very well matched & both have great quality in abundance and again very little, if anything to choose between either side on that score either.
Barcelona have the incredible, unique talent that is Lionel Messi & can back him up with the likes of David Villa, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets & Pedro and those 6 players combined are a quite formidable unit when on form & virtually unstoppable if they are allowed to play together the way they want.
How that unit of 6 sublime talents combine is vital for Barcelona but equally so is how Barcelona’s defenders & defensive minded midfielders combine as well and for the likes of Messi, Villa, Iniesta & Xavi to give their best, the defensive unit of Barcelona will have to be at their focused best as well.
As shown above, the statistics for Barcelona highlight their strengths & potential weaknesses with 27 goals scored in the 12 games they have played highlighting their attacking prowess but only 5 clean sheets from 12 highlights that Barcelona can be attacked & do concede goals.
Manchester United come into this Champions League final scenario for the third time in four seasons highlighting they have the necessary quality, experience & character to compete & Sir Alex Ferguson side go into every game believing they can win & this will be no different, despite the great respect they have for Barcelona.
Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez, Antonio Valencia, Ryan Giggs & Ji Sung Park might not be regarded as potent or flair filled attacking combination as that Barcelona can provide but what they do offer that Barcelona don’t is more direct power, pace, energy & belief and that makes them just as dangerous a unit to try & contain.
Defensively Manchester United have been supremely strong in the Champions League this year achieving a fantastic 8 clean sheets, no away goals conceded & only 4 goals conceded in the tournament so far & without doubt the performances of Edwin Van Der Sar, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand & Patrice Evra as the bedrock of Manchester United’s defensive unit will play a major part in this match.
Will Barcelona’s potentially fragile defensive unit hold up against Manchester United’s attacking unit & give their incredible attacking unit the platform to cut through Manchester United, will Manchester United’s formidable defensive unit be able to cope with the fluidity, control & technical brilliance of Barcelona’ attacking unit, those are key questions to be answered & indeed the key factor that will determine which way this final goes.
There is no doubt that the absolute key factor will be which side scores the first goal as whoever does that will have control of the game & both Manchester United & Barcelona are experts at controlling games when in front but in saying that both teams have the proven talent & experience to come back and it all just adds to making this a really tough call to make & making it look like a coin flip every time I look at it.
Barcelona & Manchester United have their key strengths & potential weaknesses, Sir Alex Ferguson & Pep Guardiola are two of the most talented & tactically aware managers around, both teams will be confident but equally have massive respect for each other & so an entertaining scoring draw does offer great appeal & it might just lead to another dramatic penalty shoot-out but I just have a feeling that it will be won in 90 minutes & that basis the odds become the key factor.
The bookmakers have Barcelona as strong 1/2 favourites to lift the trophy & a general even money to win in 90 minutes while Man United at 6/4 to win it outright & 11/4 to win in 90 minutes, those odds are understandable given Barcelona have been favourites all along but in saying that there I don’t believe that there should be such a variance in the prices for Barcelona & Manchester United win and therefore Manchester United look solid value to me.
With this being a one off event between two well matched sides & two great managers I cannot see what makes Barcelona Even money & Manchester United 11/4 & so while this game is likely to be an intensely competitive, high quality but equally tight affair at times then I have to go with my instincts to take the betting value & a Manchester United win in 90 minutes looks a great value bet to me but equally I have to finish by saying the safest bet could be to just sit back & enjoy what should be a great occasion & match.
Outright Match Result: Manchester United to win
Correct Score options: Manchester United to win 2-0/2-1
First Goalscorer each way/Players to score anytime: Rooney/Hernandez/Park
Scorecast options: Rooney/Hernandez/Park score 1st & Manchester United win 2-0/2-1
Double Result: DRAW H/T & MAN UNITED F/T
Well those are my views on the Champions League & hopefully you find them interesting, useful & informative and that they help guide you towards successful punts on what should prove to be a truly great occasions & Champions League final to remember.
Remember to check the latest team news before you bet & also to shop around for the best odds & best terms available and good luck with whatever bets you have.