Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Manchester United Vs Barcelona: Looking Ahead

Champions League logoChampions League logo

Anderson puts it as "my dream final."

Ricardo says he must fly to Old Trafford or Nou camp to see the match live.

Torres seems to be talking more about this semi final than his own team's.

Surely, Manchester United-Barcelona is a footballing extravaganza that no football crazy would like to miss. It is hence, not an understatement nor an offense to the remaining teams (Chelsea and Liverpool), when people say this match is as good as a final.

Both United and Barcelona play this beautiful game the way it ought to be played, with the flair attacking style. Both teams consist of the finest footballing talents in the world.

No wonder footballing pundits are sitting on the fence on this one. They are abstaining from making any predictions because the match is truly very tight to call.

Both Barca and Manchester United are undefeated in this season's Champions League.

So what is the difference between these two teams?

At Nou camp, Barcelona must be careful enough not to concede while scoring a few themselves. It is imperative though that Barca don't go gung-ho trying to kill the tie in the first leg itself.

United are deadly fast on the counter and the tie can slip away from the hosts before they know it!

The one thing that is sure to make a difference in this tie is the defense. United have a clear advantage here and with Vidic back it is hard to see them conceding lots of goals.

Also, United are more organized than Barca. And with the attacking flair that United boasts, the Barca defense will surely be tested.

Another factor that comes into play is the Ronaldo-Messi battle.

Both are breathtaking talents. But here again, since Messi is returning from injury, Ronaldo might come away victorious from this little battle. One remembers how Gatusso played him out last year in the semis, but Yaya Toure is no Gatusso.

On the other hand one sees Hargreaves and Evra fully equipped to handle Messi.

With Ronaldinho out and Messi coming back from injury the onus falls on Henry and Eto'o to inspire Barca. Even though they are not in their best form, their quality cannot be undermined and it is here that Barca can edge out United.

Even though Rooney+Tevez might match Henry+Eto'o on paper, the latter are more conventional forwards and more prolific and proven goal scorers. Also one wonders whether Sir Alex will play a 4-4-2 rather than his favored 4-5-1.

With all these factors taken into account one might say that United have a slight advantage going into this tie.

But football is never played on paper, especially with so much talent gracing one field, nothing can be certain.

For the first leg, I see United getting at least one away goal and not conceding more than one themselves. It's a tough call, but such games don't come often and neither does the chance to predict their scorelines.

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