The world of football will be at a stand-still come Saturday evening as the biggest club competition in the world reaches its climax. No amount of scandals at FIFA will take away from the showpiece game at Wembley between Barcelona and Manchester United. Imogen Thomas turning up will be another matter. We don’t want Sir Alex refusing to read the tablog though so we’ll nip that one in the bud for the moment.
Both sides have triumphed at the old Wembley in a European Cup final and for once it really does have the feel of the best two sides in European club football facing off. How far ahead you consider Barcelona to be is a matter of fevered discussion. Home advantage could be huge for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.
Looking at the two sides some of the stats are staggering. United’s expected starting XI for the finals have scored a total of 58 goals between them in all competitions this season. On his own, Leo Messi has 52. United’s fight back comes in the fact that of their starting, eleven the players have appeared in a total of 18 finals to Barcelona’s 12. You wouldn’t have thought this would bother the footballing greatness of the Catalan’s though.
The last time the two sides met was the final of two years previous with Barcelona prevailing by two goals to nil. This is where United can find another saving grace – neither team has even won consecutive encounters between the two sides. This is all clutching at a rather large bunch of straws. It’s what the English side might have to do though.
Barcelona rarely has an off day and with the team they have assembled, it’s hard to see them slipping up in what would end their season on a high. If anyone has what it takes to get a victory, it’s Fergie, and you can just imagine Ryan Giggs getting the winner to spark off a national holiday in Wales.