Clash of Manchester Heads to Wembley: Is This Derby the Biggest One Yet?
Red versus blue. Tradition against nouveau riches. Sir Alex Ferguson versus Roberto Mancini.
This fixture, always an entertainer, typifies opposing forces.
With Manchester United chasing a treble and Manchester City trying to pick up their first silverware in over 30 years, this edition of the Manchester Derby has the potential to be one of the best ones yet―even if it is to be played in London rather than Manchester.
Ferguson will have been buoyed by his side's recent form, including victories home and away against Chelsea.
Mancini, on the other hand, likely has questions over his side's prowess, epitomized by their 3-0 defeat to Liverpool on Monday.
Why is this derby more significant than any other?
Well, first of all, United are chasing a Treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League. Should they win at Wembley on Saturday, they will likely go on to win the FA Cup, beating Stoke City or Bolton in the process. Add in the Premier League trophy that they have all but won, and that's two-thirds of the potential trophy haul.
Though there's no telling whether, having presumably beaten Schalke, they would be able to unlock a mercurial Barcelona or rampant Real Madrid in the final, they would certainly fancy their chances having won two trophies already.
City, on the other hand, were pitted among the favorites to win the league the beginning of the season. Names like Mario Balotelli, Gareth Barry, Adam Johnson and Carlos Tevez are enough to give many managers a tactical nightmare.
Unfortunately, they sit in fourth place in the League, having failed to achieve their potential. This is their last chance at some silverware and who better to dismiss en route than their biggest rivals, whom they haven't beaten since 2008?
While the difference in the League may present means of comparison for fans (especially the ones from Old Trafford, who have a banner reminding their enemies how long it's been since they've won a trophy), the gulf in class between the two teams is the smallest it has been in a while.
Though much of this can be (negatively) attributed to City's owners, it is without doubt that the two clubs are closer in terms of ability than they have been in a while, further stoking the already volatile inferno that is known as this grudge match.
Despite United's "biggest league game of the season" being against arch rivals Liverpool, Ferguson's side will definitely have ammunition for this one.
Their impetus, notoriously strong at this point in the season, has the ability to rip apart any side.
With the potential to replicate their success of 1999, Ferguson will have his men ready to go. They will want to ensure that their crosstown rivals will not get a sniff of a trophy, especially not ones that they feel entitled to.
However, City shouldn't be counted out, as they will be desperate to put a halt to their 35-year drought. Roberto Mancini will have given Mario Balotelli a stern talk over his antics, and the Italian striker—along with his compatriots―will surely want to right the wrongs that were so evident in the defeat at Anfield this week.
These men will be on a mission, perhaps even more so than their opponents, whose name has been synonymous with success for the past two decades.
I think they have just enough to do what they haven't done in 35 years: win a trophy.
Sit back and enjoy this one, ladies and gentlemen. It's going to be a cracker.
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