Posts Tagged ‘Pep Guardiola’

This entry will be sprinkled with bias in favour of Manchester United. Therefore at the outset, if you have any problem with this, stop reading now.

It’s a classic Champions League final and arguably the two most deserving teams are contesting. Barcelona versus Manchester United. Luckily, this time it is not Messi v Ronaldo (although the English press is trying really hard to make it look like Rooney v Messi).

Lets be frank, it isn’t going to be an individual player who stops Barcelona. As Inter Milan under Mourinho demonstrated last season, it takes a collective effort to stop the Catalan juggernaut. Say what you want about Barcelona, about them being diving cheats; yes, its true. But sadly, its also true that they are the best team in the world, and if someone claims otherwise, they certainly are the most difficult team in the world to stop.

Its going to take a focused performance from United to win the game. Nobody can afford to go into a risky tackle because of the nature of Barca players to fall down when someone so much as calls their name. Incidentally, a friend of mine told me a joke –

“Dani Alves goes down like a ton of bricks after a Scholes tackle. The ref comes to Scholes and sends him off but also books Alves for simulation. Alves gets pissed off and asks the ref, ‘How can you send him off AND book me for simulation?’

The ref replies, ‘Well, because the tackle was on Iniesta..’”

*this is the point where you laugh*

Lets be realistic, Scholes is not going to start the game. I hate to say it, but he’s past the stage where he can play in a Champions League final and expect to positively impact the game. Giggs, however is set to start the game and will no doubt be the creative element in the team. I would make a strong case for Park to start the game as well after his impressive performances when its mattered this season. He had a really good game against Chelsea and his energy levels will certainly be required to close down the Barcelona midfield.

So here’s the line up I want to see – VDS, Evra, Vidic, Ferdinand, Fabio, Park, Anderson, Fletcher, Rooney, Hernandez and Valencia.

Yes, our season’s top scorer is going to be on the bench for obvious reasons. Berbatov doesn’t have the pace to trouble the Barcelona back four and will most likely be left on the bench (and I have a feeling he won’t even come on). So the reasoning behind my formation is that United will have to hit Barca on the counter. Their full backs pushing up leaves space out wide for the Red Devils to exploit. Particularly, Valencia and Fabio on the right can cause some trouble for Eric Abidal. Iniesta plays along Abidal’s side and he doesn’t track back at all. I pick Fabio over Rafael because I worry for Rafael’s temperament. His twin brother is a capable defender and has the pace to push up as well and hence he gets the nod from me.

I know most of you would have noticed that I left Giggs out of the line up, and this wasn’t a mistake. I think we’d be much better with three runners in Park, Fletcher and Anderson. Most of you are horrified by the thought of Giggs being left out, no doubt, but the fact of the matter is (as Nishanth pointed out) is that there’s no point in having a creative midfielder when you’re not going to see so much of the ball. It isn’t like Giggs will be spraying passes across the pitch (although I would love it if that happens, but lets be realistic).

I read in today’s paper that Chris Smalling might be in the midfield (in the role Pepe played against Barca). I don’t think this’ll be a good idea, Smalling’s a good reader of the game, but I’m not sure if he has the experience to match players of this quality (prove me wrong, Chris!)

The front three are quick and players who have the pace and the skill to trouble the Barcelona back four. Rooney down the left to exploit the space left by the marauding (diving) Dani Alves. Valencia’s pace and no nonsense crossing will trouble any full back and to be fair Barca don’t have great headers of the ball. The key player for United will be Javier Hernandez. Who would have thought that this guy who was a virtual unknown would be playing the Champions League final? (I assume he will start of course).

Hernandez is the key because it is very important to put away the ball with any half chance. Any miniscule sight at goal and it should be in the back of the net. Hernandez is also a good header of the ball. His movement will give problems to Pique and Puyol. Rooney dropping deep occasionally might also give Busquets a problem since he isn’t as mobile a defence midfielder as required. I would make a case for Mascherano to start for Barca but that’s not my headache.

We all know Barca’s strongest line up but just to refresh your memories – Valdez, Dani Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, Villa, Messi. Although it would make a lot of sense for Guardiola to play Mascherano instead of Pedro and push Iniesta into Pedro’s position. My gut feeling says that that’s what’s going to happen although my gut feeling has been wrong in the past.

My line up won’t be the one Ferguson plays either, because obviously Giggs will start and I have a bad feeling that Carrick will as well. Carrick’s had a few good games (especially the games against Chelsea in the Champions League and more recently in the league at OT), but I’m not so sure about him.

Bottomline is United can’t score one and hope to defend. They have to score atleast 3, in my opinion because Barcelona will definitely score. And they’ll score more than 1. A new octopus has come out and said that United will win. I hope he’s a descendant of Paul.

Glory Glory Man United. For Number 4. For Edwin Van Der Sar. For Fergie’s third. For the fans! To ensure cheating cunts don’t win it. Come on United! Come on United!

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