Manchester United will Bruise in Rome

Mats EngdahlCorrespondent IMay 17, 2009

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 16:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United celebrates winning the Barclays Premier League trophy after the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on May 16, 2009 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Now that each of the three major leagues have concluded their title races, it's time to turn our attention to club football's final, elite competition; May 27's Champions League final in Rome, pitting Manchester United against Barcelona.

Watching United roll to an 18th Premier League title, tying them with Liverpool for the most ever, right after they thoroughly embarrassed Arsenal in their semifinal second leg at the Emirates, has this writer believing another European title defense is imminent.

Ronaldo is on form.

His performance against Arsenal was so disgustingly brilliant that it accomplished the near impossible; I dislike him more. I will say the diving, from what I've seen, has decreased, but that's because the winning has been so consistent that it's not needed.

He's still the best in the world, and if Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand shut down Messi, he'll remain that way.

Barcelona we're outclassed in the semis, beneficiaries of the away-goals rule and incomprehensible refereeing. Their ease in navigating La Liga speaks of a watered-down league. The Premier League produces bullies. The tackles are harder, the challenges smart.

Anderson will be charged with shutting down Xavi, of stopping the Spainard's cutting through balls. The Brazilian plays with an energy that seems pervasive in the United squad, especially with Rooney and Tevez, the latter soon to become the transfer season's most intriguing story.

For now though, his aim is to be a United super sub. It is doubtful he will win the nod over Rooney or Berbatov.

Thierry Henry, a United nightmare while he was in North London, is likely unfit for the match. Eto'o has scored a number of goals this year, but Henry controls European nights with a grace that critics too often ignore. He lopes across the pitch, creating problems effortlessly, even for someone like Patrice Evra.

Barcelona are entertaining, but United are terrifying in a boot-to-the-neck sort of way.

Red Devils in normal time.