Manchester United-Barcelona: The Match of the Millennium

David ArreolaSenior Analyst IMay 21, 2009

Seldom in sports do we get to see a match in which both teams are not only playing for a trophy, but for a place in history.

Manchester United, winner of three trophies this year, are searching for the first Quadruple since 1968, when Celtic pulled it off.

Barcelona, winner of a double already, are searching for the first European Treble since 1999, when Manchester United ripped it from the hands of Bayern Munich.

Historical significance aside, the actual players on the pitch are among the very best in the world. Barcelona and Manchester United have amassed "super teams" stacked with talent from all around the world.

At striker, Barcelona and Manchester United boast two of the most unconventional and versatile players at the position: Barca with Thierry Henry and United with Wayne Rooney.

Both midfields consist of players who control the very pace of the game at will. Xavi and Andres Iniesta are superstars for Barcelona, while Michael Carrick and Ji Sung Park command midfield for United.

The back four of each team are led by strong captains—Rio Ferdinand for Manchester United and Carlos Puyol for Barca.

Have I mentioned that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are on the pitch?

Ronaldo and Messi are, by the majority opinion, the two best footballers on the planet. Their skill and ability to impact a game like no other have made them the early front runners for next year's FIFA World Player of the Year.

Messi, the man who has been touted to surpass Diego Maradona.

Ronaldo, the man who has already broken the record of a past United great, George Best.

It is likely that we will never see a match with this much star power, with this much historical significance, for a long time.

The world will watch on May 27 as the Match of the Millennium kicks off.

Here are the key matchups that will make this truly a match for the ages.


Cristiano Ronaldo v. Lionel Messi

I don't think I really need to elaborate on this one. The two best players facing off in a Champions League final? What more could you ask for? Will Messi deny Ronaldo eternal glory? Or will Ronaldo keep Messi at second best?


The United back four v. the Barcelona attack

This is the true test for the heralded defense of Manchester United—a true test for Nemanja Vidic and Ferdinand, with players like Henry, Messi, and Samuel Eto'o pressuring them all day. It is likely one mistake could cost United the trophy.


Xavi and Iniesta v. Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes

This will probably decide the match. Both pairs of midfield maestros will do anything to control the center of the pitch.

Xavi and Iniesta are usually at the focal point of every Barcelona attack. Or as Tommy Smyth put it, "Everything good for Barcelona usually comes from Iniesta or Xavi."

Carrick is the unsung hero of United's trophy haul, while Scholes is the legend on the pitch.

Whoever controls the pace at midfield will probably win the game.


Wherever you are on May 27, be sure to tune into a one of a kind match.

The Match of the Millennium.