Friday, 27 May 2011

Champions League Final preview – Manchester United

Tomorrow night will be Manchester United’s third appearance out of a possible four Champions League finals. It is a remarkable record for a club who this season have become England’s most successful club side. The final will also give the club a chance to win their fourth European Cup.

The overwhelming feeling in the media this season has been that this United side is not as strong as some of its predecessors. There is definitely a case for this argument but the side has also not really been pushed to its limit domestically. In Europe they have been sublime which was highlighted against Schalke in the semi-final when they fielded a second string side. They have conceded four goals in the competition but have only scored 18.

It has been an incredible season for Sir Alex Ferguson who has once again demonstrated why he is regarded so highly. This side is not the most free flowing and attack orientated as some of his former sides but is resolute and efficient. They have struggled to play their best football at points this season but have remained extremely difficult to beat as their home form suggested; they dropped two points at home all year in the Premier League.

The final will be a close encounter and very tricky to predict. There is no doubt in my mind that Ferguson has been preparing for this ever since the final whistle in Rome two years ago, The defeat hurt many of the senior player, coaching staff and in particularly Ferguson. He felt that his players had failed to carry out his on field tactics which lead to a comfortable victory for Barcelona.

I feel they must attack the Spanish side if they are to be successful. Their form has improved as the season has gone on and their attacking threat is more potent now than at any other point. If they sit back too much they will be picked off eventually and it is unlikely the manager will let that happen. The sides that have had the most success against Barca this season are the ones who have attacked them. I would imagine that Ferguson has spoken with Mourinho several times with regards to tactics. The Portuguese manager countered Barca’s passing by hitting them very quickly and effectively on the break. With Hernandez, Park, Rooney and Valencia likely to feature I would imagine this is how United will play.

It should be a great final; they are the two best sides in Europe and Wembley should be a fitting venue for the final.

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