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The world awaits this year's Champions League final

Posted May 26, 2011 by Chris White

United won the European Cup at Wembley in 1968

The Wembley showpiece has finally arrived. On Saturday night, Manchester United take on Barcelona in the final of the Champions League in one of the most eagerly anticipated finals in years.

The English and Spanish champions clash in a repeat of the Rome final of 2009, where it was Barcelona who came out victorious, winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi.

Barca are favourites to win the competition, and have been since the first round of matches, with players such as Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta in their side, why wouldn’t they be. They swept aside Arsenal and then Real Madrid en route to the final, and Pep Guardiola will be looking to win back the trophy they lost last season to eventual winners Inter Milan.

United certainly can’t be underestimated, despite the huge task ahead of them. The three-time European Cup winners have hit top form in recent weeks, wrapping up the Premier League title and knocking Chelsea out in the quarterfinals before a resounding win against Schalke in the semis.

Barcelona are known around the world as one of, if not the best, footballing side ever. Their free-flowing football is something that everyone has to stand up and applaud at times, and on their day they can beat anyone, almost without trying.

Manchester United can be the same. On their day, Wayne Rooney, Chicharito, Ryan Giggs and co can give anyone a hiding. But can they turn it on in such a way that they can actually beat Barca?

If they do, it will be one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s greatest ever achievements – and there’s been a fair few! He needs to weigh up how to stop Barcelona running rings around United, and also how to beat them. One option is to pack the midfield, and stop them playing around the penalty area. The other is to play them at their own game and attack.

Personally, if United pack the midfield and try to catch Barcelona on the break, they’re playing a very dangerous game and they could be 2-0 down before they have time to go to plan b. Going with a two-man attack of Rooney and Chicharito has worked home and away against Chelsea, and also against Schalke and a number of English sides. This has got to be Fergie’s game plan. Two up front, Rooney dropping off and dictating play, and forcing Barcelona to defend, something they don’t do very often. If United can get in front, then go into block mode.

Whatever the sides do, it’s set to be a classic.

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