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UEFA Champions League

  • 28 May 2011
  • • 19:45
  • • Wembley Stadium, London
  • Referee: V. Kassai
  • • Attendance: 87695
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Barcelona - Manchester United Preview: Sir Alex Ferguson aiming for third Champions League win in repeat of 2009 final

Barcelona - Manchester United Preview: Sir Alex Ferguson aiming for third Champions League win in repeat of 2009 final

The newly crowned champions of Spain and England go head-to-head at Wembley with both clubs hoping to lift the European Cup for the fourth time in their history



PROBABLE LINE-UPS

Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Puyol; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Villa.

Barcelona’s main selection dilemma will concern their defence where Eric Abidal, Adriano and Maxwell are all available again after injury or illness.

However, Pep Guardiola may opt to play the also fit-again Carles Puyol at left-back with Javier Mascherano filling in alongside Gerard Pique.

Manchester United (4-4-1-1)
Van der Sar; Fabio Da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Park; Rooney; Hernandez.


The Premier League champions have few injury problems, but Sir Alex Ferguson has decisions to make, particularly over who gets the nod at right-back, a position which the Da Silva twins and John O’Shea have shared this season. Fabio has been picked for the big games recently and looks favourite to start.

The Scot’s midfield selection will also prove interesting with Darren Fletcher vying with Michael Carrick for a place, particularly after missing the 2009 clash through suspension. Elsewhere, Ji-Sung Park, so often the man for the big occasion, may get the nod with Ryan Giggs and Antonio Valencia also hot favourites to start.


DID YOU KNOW?
  • Barcelona have contested six finals, winning three and losing three. However, the Spanish champions have won their last two, both against English opposition, beating Arsenal in 2006 and Manchester United in 2009.
  • The club’s first European Cup triumph was at Wembley in 1992 when they overcame Sampdoria 1-0. Manager Pep Guardiola, then just 21, featured in the match for the Catalans.
  • Lionel Messi has 11 goals in 12 European appearances this season and one more will see him equal Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record for goals in a Champions League season with 12.
  • If he plays, defender Carles Puyol (pictured right) will be making his 101st Champions League appearance for the Spanish champions.
  • Barcelona have played Manchester United on 11 occasions but have only beaten the English side three times. Interestingly, neither team has ever won consecutive games against each other, something the Catalans will hope to amend having won the last meeting in 2009.
  • Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is chasing a hat-trick of Champions League wins and should he claim the European Cup for a third time on Saturday he will equal Bob Paisley’s record with Liverpool.
  • Edwin van der Sar will retire after the final but if United win he will become the oldest player to claim the Champions League, beating Paolo Maldini’s current record. The Italian was 38 years and 332 days when AC Milan beat Liverpool in 2007.
  • Like Barcelona, the first of Manchester United’s European Cup wins came at Wembley, back in 1968. The Red Devils beat Benfica 4-1, scoring three in extra-time with Bobby Charlton, George Best and Brian Kidd all on the scoresheet.
  • The Premier League champions have not conceded a goal away from home in the Champions League all season and have let in just four goals throughout the entire tournament.
  • Manchester United have played at the new Wembley nine times, winning five and losing four. Their last visit ended in disappointment when they were beaten 1-0 by rivals Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final last month.

Players to watch

L. Messi

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
So how do you stop Lionel Messi? That is the question that may just have been giving Sir Alex Ferguson sleepless nights in the last few weeks. Few have managed it with the Argentine amassing an incredible 55 goals in 61 games, for club and country this season, although United will note he has gone four games without a goal.  

Yet Ferguson will also need no reminding that it was Messi who popped up with the killer second goal in the 2009 final. The Barcelona star capped a superb performance with a majestic header that sealed a deserved victory, and few would bet against him finding his way onto the scoresheet once again.

W. Rooney

Position: Attacker

Games: 2

  • 3
  • 0
  • 0
Manchester United’s No.10 Wayne Rooney is a very different animal to Messi but just as crucial to his team, and he has made a knack of scoring in the big games, despite something of a rollercoaster season.

His spectacular winner against Manchester City in February was followed by crucial goals in the Champions League against Chelsea and Schalke as well as the strike that sealed the title at Blackburn Rovers, a trick he will hope to repeat at Wembley.

Editor's Prediction

Barcelona head to Wembley as favourites to be crowned European champions, although United will be eyeing revenge for the 2009 final defeat.

Sir Alex Ferguson claims to have learnt his lessons from the defeat two years ago and certainly the game may well be a closer affair, although once again, the Spaniards look to have the edge, and I can see them winning this one in extra-time.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Barcelona

Manchester United

Wins
3
0
2
Wins

Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

FC Barcelona FCB
FC Barcelona Barcelona
Draw
Manchester United FC MUN
Manchester United FC Manchester United
46%
51%

Top 3 Predictions

FC Barcelona FCB
1 - 2
Manchester United FC MUN
FC Barcelona FCB
2 - 0
Manchester United FC MUN
FC Barcelona FCB
2 - 1
Manchester United FC MUN

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