Wembley: Can Manchester United Bury Horror of Rome Against FC Barcelona?
Manchester United held their nerve against FC Schalke 04, playing with a number of notable absentees and are now set to face FC Barcelona in the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final—the third meeting between the two sides in European competition.
Manchester United and Barcelona contested the Champions League final two years ago in Rome in which Barcelona prevailed 2-0 whereas Manchester United got the better of the Catalan giants in the European Cup Winners Cup in 1991, winning by a margin of two goals to one.
Revenge for 2009 would be in the mind of Sir Alex Ferguson, a man who has seen it all with Manchester United, and it could be his last Champions League triumph before he finally decides to hang up his boots and settle into the directors offices at Old Trafford.
As the potential "dream" final between Manchester United and FC Barcelona gets closer, questions would be asked whether or this United side can actually beat the Catalans.
BBC Pundit and former Scottish International Alan Hansen thinks they can but not in a footballing spectacle.
But it is the only way to win.
Both teams have somewhat improved since the "Battle of Rome."
Barcelona would have a different attack this time around, former Arsenal great Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto'o have been replaced by David Villa and Pedro Rodriguez in the Barcelona ranks and the defense, although hampered with injuries would be stronger this time around.
Dani Alves who missed the final would be back barring injury and we will also see the return of Eric Abidal alongside Pique and Puyol replacing Yaya Toure and Sylvinho, who are no longer with the club.
Notable absentees in Manchester's ranks from that final would be Carlos Tevez and Christiano Ronaldo but the club do have in Javier Hernandez a fantastic striker, who alongside Wayne Rooney has formed a formidable striking partnership upfront.
The defense is quite formidable with Vidic and Ferdinand as center-backs and the Brazilian fullback Rafael has impressed with his oozing talents.
The problem however might lie in the midfield department.
Wembley is a large ground and would suit Barcelona's style of play. It would be easier to keep the ball and that could be a problem for United's aging midfield.
Do Manchester United have the legs to compete with Barcelona for ninety minutes? Can Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs and co. keep the ball long enough to create opportunities for Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez is something Sir Alex would be asking himself.
What strategy should Sir Alex deploy to beat FC Barcelona?
Alan Hansen also notes that during the Arsenal game, for long stretches the Londoners were able to dictate terms passing the ball quickly, making the midfield make counter productive redundant, and considering the fact that Barcelona are masters at work with their "quick passings and one-to one's," Manchester United would need to think of an alternative plan to tackle this Barcelona side.
Having said that, Manchester United are one of the best teams in the Premier League well equipped to beat this Barcelona side. It would be interesting to see the strategy that Manchester United king pin Sir Alex uses to counter the threat of Pep Guardiola's men.
In Rome, he failed playing into Barcelona's hand; at Wembley, would he do the same?
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