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.