Thursday, June 8, 2023

Who will win the big one tonight?

Graham Fisher in Editorial, UEFA Champions League 28 May 2011


Rooney v Messi

The biggest club game of the season takes place tonight at Wembley Stadium as Barcelona take on Manchester United in the Champions League final.


Often there is feeling of anti-climax when you get to the final because you feel that the best two teams have not necessarily got there. Sometimes the best two teams play each other earlier on in the competition and sometimes a team with a ‘way of playing’ like Jose Mourinho’s Inter last season, manage to knock out better teams along the way. This season none of that is applicable because most people would agree that the best two teams are playing each other tonight.

A game between the clear winners of La Liga and the clear winners of the Premier League is always going to be a classic. Both leagues think they are the strongest in the world, and whilst you can argue the case for both, few people would disagree that they are the best two.


Barcelona go into the game as fairly firn favourites and you can’t argue against that. They are regarded as the best club side in the world and some have put the case for them being the best ever. They have three players, Messi, Xavi and Iniesta, who were all in the running for the world player of the year award. They have seven players who are members of the national team who are the current World and European champions. All in all, they look as though they’ll take some beating.

In La Liga this season they have lost just twice in thirty-eight games. They have scored ninety-five goals and conceded just twenty-one. In the Champions League group stages they were unbeaten in six and out scored the opposition by fourteen goals to three. Arsenal, Shakhtar and Real Madrid were then brushed aside in the knockout stages.

The only real blemish on their record was the 1-0 extra-time defeat to Real Madrid in the Spanish Cup Final. That defeat is the one glimmer of hope that Manchester United can cling on to.


As for Manchester United there have really been three different Uniteds this season. There has been the United who have been formidable at home in the league, winning eighteen and drawing one of their nineteen fixtures. They have svcored forty-nine times in those games and let in just twelve.

The second United has been the team that has played away in the league. Taht United have won only five of nineteen games.

The third United have played in the Champions League and they have swept all before them. They were unbeaten in their six group games and conceded their only goal in a game after they had won their group. In the knockout stages Marseille and Chelsea were disposed of before a reserve team demolished Schalke in the semi-final.


There is no doubt that United at their best could be a match for Barcelona. They are probably the only club side in the world who could be. They have the experience of losing 2-0 to Barcelona in the final two years ago and will have learned a great deal from that game. Sir Alex Ferguson will not allow them to make the same mistakes again.

Both sides will have a healthy respect for the other but neither side will have any fear.


It is really tough to make a prediction. If both teams play at their very best in an open game then you would expect Barcelona to have the edge. All around the pitch Barcelona players match or beat their United counterparts on an individual basis. Van der Sar probably has the edge on Valdes, but it is hard to find other United winners. Messi v Rooney, Pique v Vidic, Villa v Hernandez, Xavi v Giggs. They are all fascinating, but you have to think Barcelona are the stronger.

United are so strong at the back that if Vidic, Ferdinand and Van der Sar all perform, they will be difficult to break down. Having said that, if anyone can, Barcelona are the team to do it.

As an Englishman my heart says that United can win the game. As a football supporter, my head says it has to Barcelona.

Barcelona 2 Manchester United 1


Graham Fisher



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12 years ago

fair analysis,may the best team win though my heart n soul are blaugrana!!!!!!!!!

12 years ago

hmm it seems every one predicted against united but barca shld consider the goal sense of chicharito and his speed. I strongly believe that united will win. United have the beter defence. Its a match between best team and best coach

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