This Saturday will see Barcelona return to Wembley for the first time since winning their first European Cup triumph in 1992. It seems unbelievable that it took a club of the stature of Barcelona until 1992 to win Europe’s most prestigious prize. Since then they have won two further titles and go into Saturday’s game as favourites for the crown.
I can remember watching the game back in 1992. I watched it with my Dad who was explaining to me that Barcelona had never won the tournament etc. I can picture the moment when Koeman’s free-kick went in and won them the trophy. It began a fascination with the club that has grown since that moment.
The current Barcelona team are the best in the world currently and there is certainly an argument to suggest they maybe the best club side ever. They have the best player in the world and boast the three Ballon d’Or finalists this season in Iniesta, Messi and Xavi.
However, this side is a tired one and one that do look vulnerable. The rest they have enjoyed over the last fortnight could prove crucial in deciding the final. Against Real Madrid in the semi-final they looked jaded and some of their crucial players were a little out of form. They can be got at and I think it is imperative that United attack Barca rather than defending deep as Madrid did.
The side certainly boasts enough experience having reached two of the last three finals. Their manager Pep Guardiola is one of the best up and coming managers in the world and one thing is guaranteed; Barca will not change their playing style. The pitch at Wembley seems to have improved which will certainly suit their preferred method of attack. It is crucial that David Villa regains form as United have look seemingly impenetrable in this seasons competition.
I am sure that the Barcelona coaching staff will have told them to target Rio Ferdinand. For me he is the weak link in the back four; not because of his ability but his lack of mobility is a real problem. After watching him against Blackburn a fortnight ago the man cannot live with pace and against Messi and Villa he will need it.
After the unnecessary furore surrounding their semi-finals with Real I hope we see the football match everyone hopes to see. They are currently the best two sides in Europe, if not the world but Ferguson is sure to have spoken with his friend Mourinho about shutting out the likes of Iniesta, Messi, Pedro, Villa and Xavi. The little Argentian wonder kid has already scored 11 goals in 12 games in this season’s tournament and is only one goal away from breaking van Nistelrooy’s record.
It should be a showpiece final for all football fans to enjoy. Let us hope it lives up to it.