Barcelona vs. Manchester United 2:45 PM ET Wednesday May 27, 2009
By Jason Green at Predictem.com
In the match up that most have wanted to see in the Champions League final, Barcelona plays defending champion Manchester United on Wednesday night at Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Both teams have won their domestic leagues, as Barcelona won the La Liga title and Man U won the Premier League title, and each looks to add the Champions League Cup trophy. Man U looks to become the first team since AC Milan in 1990 to repeat as Champions League champions.
Barcelona has been the highest scoring team in the Champions League this season and they are one of the more exciting games to watch with their free flowing style of soccer. Man U is also solid on offense and they have not been beat in Champions League competition this season.
Manchester United did not have a tough time disposing Arsenal in the semi-finals, while Barcelona needed a late goal from Andres Iniesta against Chelsea, when they were only at 10 men, to make it to the final. The big question in this game is whether Man U can stop the dynamic Barcelona offense led by Samuel Eto’o, Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi. Last season Man U eliminated Barcelona is the semi-finals in last year’s Champions League and the Spanish giants can get some revenge with a win in Wednesday’s final.
Barcelona recent form:
5/23 Barcelona 0-1 Osasuna (La Liga)
5/17 Real Mallorca 2-1 Barcelona (La Liga)
5/13 Athletic Bilbao 1-4 Barcelona (Copa del Rey)
5/10 Barcelona 3-3 Villarreal (La Liga)
5/6 Chelsea 1-1 Barcelona (Champions League)
Manchester United recent form:
5/12 Hull City 0-1 Man U (Premiership)
5/16 Man U 0-0 Arsenal (Premiership)
5/13 Wigan Athletic 1-2 Man U (Premiership)
5/10 Man U 2-0 Manchester City (Premiership)
5/5 Arsenal 1-3 Man U (Champions League)
Barcelona will not be at full strength on the defensive side of the pitch, as both Eric Abidal and Daniel Alves are suspended for the final. Gerard Pique, who used to play for Man U, will start on defense and will have to play a solid game.
Andres Iniesta and Thierry Henry are nursing minor injuries, but they should be ready for the final.
Manchester United is almost at full strength, as they will only miss midfielder Darren Fletcher in the final.
The anchor of the Man U defense is Rio Ferdinand and even though he has a minor injury and he should start. He and Nemanja Vidic have the responsibility to thwart the awesome Barcelona attack.
Even though Barcelona has the great offense, led by Messi, their defense may be the key to this match. The Barcelona defense will be a patchwork D since Eric Abidal and Daniel Alves are out. Sylvinho is solid at left back, but he is 35 years old and not as quick as he once was and Yaya Toure will be at center back, which is not his favorite position on the pitch.
The battle in the midfield between Xavi for Barcelona and Michael Carrick of Mau U will be huge and the player that can win that match up will give their team a great chance to win, as their team will have more offensive opportunities.
Barcelona plays a full out attacking style and they have to be careful from a quick counter strike from Man U, so they have to get back on D quickly when they give up the ball.
Man U’s attack is led by Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo and they may cause some problems with the Barcelona makeshift defense.
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 2 long free kicks in his last 3 Champions League matches, and Barcelona goalie Victor Valds has to keep that from happening for a 3rd time on Wednesday night.
Man U goalie Edwin van der Sar was awesome in last season’s final and he will have to have another great game against dynamic offense of Barcelona.
Jason’s Pick: Both teams can score and both teams have defensive question marks. I think this is Barcelona’s season and their offense will come through and score when they get the chance. Look for a close game, but I see a 2-1 Barcelona win.