At the moment there isn't a
single team that can compete with Barcelona in terms of ball possession.
Indeed, it's a safe
bet to assume that possession of the ball will be about 65 per cent in favour
of Barcelona. The question is: how United will use the remaining 35 per cent?
Will they be
efficient? I really think they will. They have demonstrated throughout the season
that their strikers are extremely efficient. That's why it should be a very
open game with no absolute favourite.
It has been suggested
that United's experience, symbolised by 37-year-old Ryan Giggs, could prove to
be the difference in this final at Wembley.
But I don't think so.
Most of the Barcelona players have already won the Champions League two years
ago and their Spain internationals have won both the World Cup and the European
Moreover, Barcelona played
four 'clasicos' last month, a series which carries an emotional weight at least
as heavy as a Champions League final. Barcelona know very well how to deal with
In the 2009 final, Alex
Ferguson instructed his side to play their normal game on the pitch. It proved
a failure due to Barcelona's technical mastery. As a consequence, I really
think that Ferguson will put a different tactic in place this year. He may pack
his midfield more and ask his players to be more aggressive towards the opposition
Once again during this
final, the performance of top class players will be crucial. Indeed, both teams
will rely on them to unlock the situation. During this kind of game, the skill
and shape of one player can make all the difference. This is clearly a game for
Lionel Messi or Wayne Rooney and we can assume that a stand-out performance from
one of these two players will determine which team lifts the trophy at
Another key of this
match will be the performance of the pairing of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic,
both excellent defenders. If they are confronted by a physical player they will
take advantage by forcing their own physical presence on them.
But, in the final they
will face Messi, who is not player who likes contact. Messi is not a
typical striker; he is given great freedom to roam around the field of play, allowing
him to play lower down the pitch or on either flank.
It corresponds to
Barcelona's tactics, which consist of fixing the opposition full-backs while the
central defenders have no one to mark. Then, the ball carrier will run at the defence.
That's why Manchester United's midfield have such a very important role to play
- to prevent Barcelona strikers from turning to face Ferdinand and Vidic.