Barcelona veiw : Just 2 days to go!!!!

25 05 2009

Messi speeds past Park

On Wednesday night in Rome Football Club Barcelona and Manchester United will go head-to-head to see who is the best team in Europe. For the first time that I can remember for a final practically every bookmaker you care to look at has the odds for the two teams exactly the same. United are the current European champions and have won the English Premier League for the last three seasons while Pep Guardiola has taken Barça to a league and cup double in his first season while breaking goalscoring records along the way. United are the more pragmatic team but with World Player of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo, in their ranks they have plenty of flair too. Barça have impressed neutrals this year with their dazzling displays of attacking football and in Leo Messi have their heir to Ronaldo’s throne while Andres Iniesta will also be in the running for the title.

So, how will the two teams play? We all know that Barça are unlikely to change their style, and let’s face it we only really know one way to play: all-out attack. United, meanwhile, will no doubt have studied our semi-final with Chelsea as to clues on how to stifle us. But can United play in the same way as Chelsea? The most likely formation for United seems to be with O’Shea, Ferdinand (or Evans), Vidic and Evra at the back, Anderson, Carrick and Giggs across the centre of midfield with Ji-Sung Park playing wide on the right and Wayne Rooney in a similar role on the left and Ronaldo left to roam up front. Park and Rooney both have a very high work-rate so they will be hoping to play 4-5-1 when Barça have the ball switching to 4-3-3 to attack.

Barça’s biggest problem is in defence, and it is precisely because of Park’s non-stop running that it seems that Pep Guardiola is toying with the idea of playing Seydou Keita at left back. To many Sylvinho may seem the more obvious choice but at 35 he could struggle against Park while Keita can match Park’s stamina. It also looks likely that Toure Yaya will be chosen to fill in again alongside Gerard Piqué in central defence. Toure’s lack of pace and inexperience in the position is worrying, especially when he has to face Cristiano Ronaldo; however, the positive side to the decision is that Toure is much better than Martin Caceres at bringing the ball out and is less likely to make a stupid mistake. It is vital that our defenders do not lose the ball near goal, and Toure and Piqué are both extremely comfortable in possession. Added to that Toure is strong in the air and with Sergio Busquets getting the chance in midfield we will have plenty of height for defending set pieces. With Dani Alves out, captain Carles Puyol will play at right back. Hopefully Rooney will spend the game tracking back to support Evra against Messi and will have few opportunities to get forward to test Puyol.

With Toure in defence our midfield will be Xavi, Busquets and Iniesta if he is deemed to be fit. Busquets will mainly be concerned with cutting out the through ball to Ronaldo and with covering our full backs, while Xavi and Iniesta will hopefully find the room to get passes through to our forwards. The fact that they will be up against Anderson and Giggs gives me hope in this respect as neither United player is as defensive as the likes of Essien, Ballack and Mikel who succeeded in cancelling out our midfield duo when Chelsea came to Camp Nou last month. Our main worry with the United midfield will be if Giggs finds space to look for Ronaldo. We will have to be especially vigilant to make sure this happens rarely.

If Samuel Eto’o plays at centre forward he is going to find it hard to get away from Vidic and Ferdinand. However, I believe Messi and Henry will have more luck against Evra and O’Shea. Henry was in great form before his injury and we will have to hope he is back to best as he could give O’Shea a lot of problems. I imagine Messi and Eto’o may change positions if things are not going our way, and as we saw at the Bernabeu, Messi can cause havoc playing as a false centre forward as the central defenders don’t know when to follow him as he drifts into midfield.

Of course, the fact that this is how the teams are predicted to play is no guarantee that Ferguson and Guardiola won’t have some tricks up their sleeves. Paul Scholes or Carlos Tevez could be included for United while Caceres or Sylvinho might start for Barça, if either Henry or Iniesta don’t make it in time then Keita will probably start in midfield but this could seriously effect our creativity going forward. Whatever happens it should be a great battle, let’s hope that it’s a final to remember and that the best team wins

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