Fri, May 27, 7:14am by Kevin Pitstock
The Champions League final is meant to be one of the showpieces of world football. Often it can be a nervous and negative affair, but the presence of Manchester United and Barcelona should guarantee a much more positive feel than plenty of other potential finals could have thrown up. Barcelona are being hailed as one of the all-time great teams, while this is also a re-match from two years ago, where Barcelona came away with what was – eventually – a reasonably comfortable 2-0 victory. So what prospects for a change in fortune this time? This one gets underway at 04:45AST but is worth staying up for.
MANCHESTER UNITED PREVIEW
Manchester United go into this game with the Premier League title secured, ultimately with some comfort, so they have been able to have a fairly low key build up, which will suit them. The main concern they have injury wise is with Darren Fletcher, an important defensive midfielder who has been suffering with a virus. Their main concerns are who to play at right back, either Fabio, or John O’Shea, and what do to in midfield. Do they sacrifice Javier Hernandez to put in someone extra to bottle up Lionel Messi? They also have to decide whether or not to try and press Barcelona high up the field, which they did well in the start of the final two years ago. Arsenal came very close to beating Barcelona, and if they can learn from that, they have a decent chance here.
There are no huge injury worries for Barcelona either in this game. The one decision is at left-back, as to whether or not Eric Abidal can play. If not Carlos Puyol will be moved across, with Javier Mascherano moving into centre-back. Lionel Messi is the standout player, even among this elite grouping, and if he can drag United players out of position, then they can exploit the space and work at passing their opponents to death as per usual. Their combination in the centre of Xavi and Iniesta could potentially be too mobile for their expected counterparts of Ryan Giggs & Michael Carrick. They might find life difficult on the wings with Antonio Valencia able to attack in the left back position and Park able to but pressure on Dani Alves. The more the ball is in the middle, the better it will be for Barca.
REAL MADRID v TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR BEST BET AND PREDICTION
Barca look like they have the edge in the midfield department, and we are happy to go for a repeat of 2009, with our prediction a Barcelona 2-0 win. We like the $2.00 on Barcelona to win in 90 minutes you can find at Sportsbet Australia.
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