Champions League Final: 10 Bold Predictions for Barcelona vs. Manchester United

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentMay 12, 2011

Champions League Final: 10 Bold Predictions for Barcelona vs. Manchester United

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 09:  The Champions League trophy is displayed as part of the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Liverpool at Craven Cottage on May 9, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Scot
    Scott Heavey/Getty Images

    In 2008, when then-CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour boldly stated her sources believed Osama bin Laden was living comfortably in a villa, panellist Garry Shandling and host Bill Maher dismissed her assertion.

    Amanpour’s bold statement went against logic, as why would a man hunted by the United States government be living in plain sight of everyone?  

    Will Tidey has asked me to produce 10 logic-defying bold predictions of my own for the 2011 UEFA Champions League final, and here they are.  

Manchester United Will Defeat Barcelona

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 08:  Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates at the end of the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on May 8, 2011 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Gett
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Why It Goes Against Logic

    Barcelona are the preeminent conveyer of beautiful football, thus people tend to notice their seemingly limitless attacking ability—as opposed to their, at times, nonexistent defence.

    Aside from the second leg against Schalke, Manchester United’s UEFA Champions League campaign has been unspectacular.

    Barcelona have outscored Manchester United by nine goals, so it's logical to think Manchester United will lose to Barcelona like they did in 2009.

    Can It Happen?

    Probable. 

    On route to the 1964 European Cup final, Real Madrid outscored Inter Milan by 13 goals.

    Yet in the final, it was Inter Milan manager Helenio Herrera’s catenaccio which stifled Real Madrid’s exceptional quartet of Alfredo Di Stéfano, Amancio Amaro, Ferenc Puskás and Francisco Gento. As a result, Inter Milan won 3-1.

    Manchester United will have to adopt the blueprint of José Mourinho and fight for a 1-0 victory. 

Dimitar Berbatov Will Score the Winner

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    SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02: Dimitar Berbatov of Manchester United sits on the bench during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Manchester United at the Stadium of Light on October 2, 2010 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo by Micha
    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Why It Goes Against Logic

    Even with 22 goals this season, Dimitar Berbatov finds himself on the outside, looking in.

    It’s likely that Sir Alex Ferguson will not start Berbatov, therefore limiting his chances of scoring a winner.

    Will It Happen?

    Maybe.

    Coming on as a substitute, it took Lars Ricken 16 seconds to memorably score against Juventus in the 1997 UEFA Champions League final.

    Berbatov has the ability to conjure up some magic if he comes off the bench as an impact substitute. 

Lionel Messi Will Remain Goalless

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    BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 03:  Lionel Messi of Barcelona looks on during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final second leg match between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium on May 3, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images
    Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

    Why It Goes Against Logic

    Fifty-two goals in 54 goals. Enough said.

    Can It Happen?

    Maybe.  

    Did you know Lionel Messi is currently on a four-game goalless drought?

    Mind you, early in the season for Argentina, he was on a six-game goalless drought.

    If Sir Alex Ferguson follows the methods of José Mourinho, then Manchester United will have an enforcer in the centre constantly snapping Messi's heels.

    The presence of Pepe decreased Messi's influence, and when Pepe was sent off, Messi began to dominate the game.   

Olegario Benquerença Will Referee the Final

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    MILAN, ITALY - APRIL 20:  Referee Olegario Benquerenca signals during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final First Leg match between Inter Milan and Barcelona at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on April 20, 2010 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Image
    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    Why It Goes Against Logic

    Portuguese referee Olegario Benquerença is a name forever engrained into the consciousness of Barcelona players, after their 3-1 loss to Inter Milan at the San Siro in 2010.

    Emily Benammar at The Telegraph reported Barcelona centre back Gerard Piqué stating, “We had no help from the referees. The second leg has to have an impartial referee."

    ESPNsoccernet reported Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdés stating, “I am convinced that [Jose] Mourinho will be very happy if there is a Portuguese referee.”

    It’s only logical to think UEFA will not appoint Benquerença to avoid any possibility of controversy.

    Though to counter that point, when José Mourinho blacklisted Frank de Bleeckere as a referee who favoured Barcelona, UEFA still appointed de Bleeckere to officiate Real Madrid vs. Barcelona.

    Can It Happen?

    Somewhat likely.

    The referee appointed to five of the past UEFA Champions League finals did not officiate a Champions League semifinal leg that season. Benquerença did not officiate in the Champions League semifinals this season.

    The referee appointed to five of the past UEFA Champions League finals did officiate a Champions League quarterfinal leg that season. Benquerença officiated in this season's Champions League quarterfinal leg, presiding over Manchester United vs. Chelsea

Sir Alex Ferguson Will Start Paul Scholes

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    AMSTERDAM, HOLLAND -  AUGUST 4:   Paul Scholes  of Manchester United is shown the red card during the LG Amsterdam Tournament friendly match between Manchester United and FC Porto at The  Amsterdam Arena  on August 4, 2006 in Amsterdam, Holland.  (Photo b
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Why It Goes Against Logic

    Throughout his 17 professional seasons, Paul Scholes has always been a limited tackler.

    Instead of winning the ball, he’d poleaxe into the opposing player, at times escaping a certain red card.

    Scholes is odds-on to pick up a legitimate red card, or have Barcelona players deceive the referee into giving him an illegitimate red card.

    It’s rational to think in light of this that Sir Alex Ferguson will not start Scholes, who is a liability to Manchester United’s hopes of winning the UEFA Champions League for the fourth time.

    Can It Happen?

    Unlikely.

    The ESPNStar reported Ferguson discussing how sentiment did not play a role in his decision-making. This statement is reinforced by the example of John O’Shea being left as an unused substitute during the 2008 Champions League final.  

    Scholes has played second fiddle to Michael Carrick in the Champions League season, and seems it’ll remain that way come the 28th of May 2011. 

Park Ji-Sung Will Be Sent off

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    INCHEON, SOUTH KOREA - JUNE 25: South Korean footballer Park Ji-Sung addresses a press conference after successfully undergoing a medical test by Manchester United June 25, 2005 in Incheon, South Korea. Park Ji-Sung became the first South Korean player in
    Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

    Why It Goes Against Logic

    Park Ji-Sung isn’t known for malicious tackling like his teammate, Paul Scholes.

    In the past two seasons, Park has received two yellow cards and hasn’t received a red card since the 2004/2005 season. 

    Can It Happen?

    Highly unlikely.

    In order for Park to be sent off, he'd have to leave a trailing leg, presumably trip over Sergio Busquets—who'll clutch his face in agony—thus forcing the referee to incorrectly send off Park.

    Though the referee would have to know Park's shy and friendly demeanour and the playacting of Barcelona players—specifically Busquets.

    Perhaps in the final, the referee will call against Barcelona even if they are fouled, because of their past indiscretions in purposely deceiving referees.   

Éric Abidal Will Score a Goal

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    Why It Goes Against Logic

    Éric Abidal has scored two goals in 326 career games.

    Can It Happen?

    Highly unlikely.

    Abidal is a throwback to fullbacks when the term “back” meant defending.

    The most attacking contribution you’ll see Abidal make is sauntering down the flank and delivering a well-timed cross.

    Then again, Juliano Belletti scored his first and only goal for Barcelona in the 2006 UEFA Champions League final against Arsenal

John O'Shea Will Be Named Man of the Match

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 16:  John O'Shea of Manchester United  on the ball during the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON semi final match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on April 16, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/G
    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Why It Goes Against Logic

    In the past 10 UEFA Champions League finals, Paolo Maldini is the only defender to have been named Man of the Match.

    John O'Shea is nowhere near the calibre of Maldini. Then there’s Barcelona’s array of world-class stars.

    Can It Happen?

    Highly unlikely, bordering on not happening.

    In order for O’Shea to be named Man of the Match, Manchester United have to win, O’Shea will have to display countless highlight-reel tackles and a goal wouldn’t hurt either.

    Though it seems Nemanja Vidić is more likely to accomplish this act rather than O’Shea.

    Then again, during the 1993 UEFA Champions League final, unheralded and agricultural defender Basile Boli stole the limelight from the likes of Abedi Pelé, Alen Bokšić, Marco van Basten, Jean-Pierre Papin, Paolo Maldini and Rudi Völler.

Oier Olazábal Will Make an Appearance

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    Why It Goes Against Logic

    Firstly, Oier who?

    Oier Olazábal is Barcelona’s third goalkeeper, the undisputed No. 1 being Víctor Valdés and the backup keeper being José Pinto.

    With Pinto suspended, Olazábal is likely to warm the Wembley benches.  

    Can It Happen?

    Highly unlikely bordering on not happening.

    In order for Olazábal to make an appearance, Valdés has to do a Jens Lehmann and get sent off, or get injured. 

Barcelona Players Will Not Dive

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    Why It Goes Against Logic

    Barcelona players seemingly have been institutionalised to dive.  

    Can It Happen?

    It won’t.

    What is likely to happen is Manchester United staunchly defending and implementing a physical game against Barcelona.

    Barcelona players react to Manchester United's defensive pressure by collapsing to the ground clutching their faces.  

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