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Showing posts with label Manchester United. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Manchester United. Show all posts

May 21, 2011

Well, there are two games left for us in this season - one a pretty much insignificant one for us and another one which is worth dying for. The insignificant one takes place to morrow at Malaga with both teams having nothing to play for. Guardiola has taken this oppurtunity to rest a majority of his players ahead of the Champions League final clash at Wembley. Valdes, Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, Puyol and Pique all are ommitted from the squad which will make the journey to Malaga. Unfortunately Fc Barcelona's opponent in this year's big final, Manchester United is not blessed with such an oppurtunity. It's not because they failed to win the title till now, infact they won it last season. But the stupid FA has some even more stupid rule which forces Manchester United to field a very strong side. La Liga management, definitely looks like having some competition over there. On apositive note, it could help the players to get into full focus ahead of the big final on 28th. Meanwhile Guardiola has rested almost all the regular first eleven and we have to wait to see how it will affect the players. But majority of Barca's World Cup stars will gladly take this two week off, especially after that emotionally draining El Clasico series.

May 29, 2009

This one was billed as the "Mother of All Final". It indeed had to be. The final of this year's UEFA Champions League featured The Champions of Spain and England. Manchester United were the defending Champions and having won the Premier League for the third consecutive time was the prime candidate to retain their title, at least according to English Media. FC Barcelona, even though they had the most strongest attack on the earth, the English media and pundits gave them no chance owing to their defensive fragility. To add it all their attack struggled against Chelsea and was written off as "Not Good Against English Clubs". The English media had all predicted the outcome of this final before hand and was only waiting to see how well Manchester United is going to kill Barca. But the match turned out to be the biggest surprise for the English media. To their astonishment, FC Barcelona won and to add to their injuries FC Barcelona never had to play well to win this final. They weren't anywhere near their potential, still they kept a very talented Manchester United team under check.

This match was not only a clash between two giant clubs in Europe; it was also a match between a the most successful coach in club history against a rookie coach. At the end of the match you have to admit that FC Barcelona coach Guardiola came on top. I never considered Guardiola as a tactical genius; he is more a man manger kind of coach. But he completely had Ferguson under check. Numerous Postmortem has been conducted by English media about ManU's failure, but I doubt anything has been accurate. Most of them are finding it difficult to point fingers at Ferguson, a person they have always admired. Ronaldo may have directed the blame to Ferguson with his post-match comments about tactics. But his second half performance did not merit any merit either. More over he said he wasn't sure about his future in the post-match comments; that comment was a bigger shame. He should have taken heart-broken Manchester United fans into consideration before saying something which adds to their misery.

But their is no doubt in my mind about the fact that Ferguson has to take a majority of the blame. He never gave this Barca side the respect they deserved before the match and again failed to read the game at half-time. Many people has directed the entire blame to the starting eleven he chose. But for me that's a bit strange. You ask every pundit before the match they would have wanted a similar starting eleven. So for me his starting eleven choice was more or less accurate. More over 4-3-3 formation was a better choice than the 4-4-2 formation, as Barca had two old legs as full backs. For me Ferguson and his players took all the hype created by the English media about ManU's defense and Barca's defensive worries into the head. Manchester United came out with an absolute belief that this FC Barcelona side would never be able to score against them. The reaction of Manchester United defensive players after conceding the first goal is a testimony of this. They stood their looking totally confused as this was not part of their script. To decide that this talented FC Barcelona side will never be able to score against them was for me arrogance at its best. Manchester United always had a better chance of outscoring us because of our problems with the absentees we had in defense.

But what made Manchester United's pursuit a complete lost one was the inability of Ferguson to read the game at half time. There was no doubt that Manchester United was losing the midfield battle completely. Iniesta and Xavi were drawing circles around Anderson and Carrick. What Manchester United needed was a double substitution at half time. he should have taken off Anderson for Scholes and Park for Tevez. But he did half of each - Andesron for Tevez. This meant that they will go back to 4-4-2 formation. That tactic completely changed the match in Barca's favour. In the first half Rooney regularly troubled Puyol with his pace, eventhough his crossing was appalling. The logical thing to do was to move Tevez to centre and put Ronaldo against Sylvinho on the right in a 4-3-3 formation. But instead he chose the 4-42 formation that means the full back had more time to deal with the wingers. That is illustrated by the fact that Puyol had an error free game after the half time.

By not employing Scholes early in second half, Ferguson allowed Barca's midfield to completely dominate the possession. Scholes would have tried his best to make life difficult for atleast Busquets. But that was not to be. And also I have to question his decision to have Ferdinand in starting line-up ahead of Evans. Ferdinand and Vidic looked out of sync for majority of the match. Meanwhile Guardiola produce a tactical masterstroke by moving Messi to middle ahead of the midfield. That made sure that Messi, Iniesta and Xavi linked well at will. Apart from that he never had to work his brain. Everything went perfect according to his script - an early goal, Complete domination by Barca and a timely goal to settle the match. One of the best thing about this Champions League season is that it has catapulted Iniesta to greatness. He is a very media shy person and would never appear in limelight. But his performance in last few months have made people compare him with Messi and Ronaldo. Just listen to Rooney, a man who would have only one answer to the "Best Player on The Planet" debate a few days back - Rooney said and I qoute "I think Iniesta is the best player in the world right now. They pass the ball so well. If you don't take your chances against them, they will punish you." For all ManU fans who is reading this - don't take these comments personally, just take a moment and go through it, you will agree with my views.

May 25, 2009

History will be made when FC Barcelona meet Manchester United in the Olympic Stadium at Rome. No team has ever been successful in defending the UEFA Champions League title and no Spanish team has ever achieved a treble. So it is sure that one record is to be brocken, but which one? Manchester United most probably would have the entire squad minus Fletcher to chose for the final. Rio Ferdinand was a doubful starter but he is expected to be in the starting eleven. Meanwhile FC Barcelona already have three defenders missing from their squad- Marquez is out injured and Abidal as well as Alves are both are suspended. There are still doubts about Henry and Iniesta's participation in Rome. Hence it is logical to say that Manchester United looks well placed to retain their title this season. Now that's on paper. Massimo Busacca, the swiss referee has been given the responsibility of officiating in the final. FC barcelona has not yet lost a match when he has officiated. The last match of FC Barcelona under his supervision was the first leg of last year's semi-final against Manchester United. But then there is not much reason with that to cheer as Manchester United also looks like have never lost when he has officiated.

FC Barcelona has won their two previous European cup while starting as the home team. In the 4-0 loss to Milan we were the Away team. FC Barcelona is chosen as the Home team in this final and that is a positive fact to hang on; to make it more interesteing Manchester United's three European Cup Triumphs they were the home team. But the Manchester United has a 100% record in the European Cup finals and they do have a defeinite edge over Barca in elimination rounds. Mean while Iniesta and Henry trained along with other players but not that strenuously. Both of them have trained in the last training session before leaving to Rome. Meanwhile Botía and Marc Muniesa is also expected to make into the travelling party along with the entire squad. Whatever be the facts and stats, the majority of football pundits is backing Manchester United against FC Barcelona in this final. Now that's a change to start as the under-dogs.

May 21, 2009

There are expectations of fireworks when FC Barcelona play Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League 2008-09 final in Rome on May 27th. Sir Alex Ferguson and Guardiola both have mentioned it as a final to savour. But whether we can go by their statements is debatable, especially with Alex Ferguson's. The Manchester United coach promised twice to attack FCBarcelona when they met last season. The English media hyped Manchester United attack to that extent, everyone suddenly expected a massacre of an out-of-sort FCBarcelona side at the hands of ManU. But in reality Ferguson took the sensible option of parking the bus around the box and hoped to catch FCBarcelona napping in the process, which they did with a Scholes screamer. But there was no massacre by Cristiano Ronaldo and co. Actually Ronaldo never saw the ball enough in those two matches. Hence once again we can expect a similiar tactic from Manchestr United. Why shouldn't they follow the same? Actually this season they have been playing the same way throught out Europe with great success.

The final between Manchester United and FC Barcelona has been billed as the biggest and the most inspiring final of Champions League final. It is indeed the clash between the Best Attack and the Most Meanest Defense of Europe this season. Manchester United has scored 18 goals and have conceded only six goals, whereas FC Barcelona has conceded 13 and scored 30 goals. So it will be advisable not to take this hailing of attacking display too much into your head. Last season Champions League final saw one of the most boring finals ever in the history and fans around the globe will be hoping that this final atleast lives to it expectation. The absence of regualr full-backs from FCBarcelona side may make Manchester United attack a bit more than last season but I firmly believe that they will depend on their defense to win the final for them. If they succeed in that, they will become the first side to retain a Champions League trophy. If FC Barcelona is going to stop them they need the service of Iniesta and Henry at Rome in full flow.

FC Barcelona and Manchester United has faced each other in two previous Champions League season after 91-92. The first time they met was in the Groups Stage of 94 - 95 Champions League. FC Barcelona held Manchester United to a 2-2 draw away from home and demolished them 4-0 at home. But the roles slightly reversed when they met last season in semis. Manchester United held Barca to goal less draw at home and then expelled Barca out of competition with a 1-0 victory at home. So there is nothing much to chose from between the two. Manchester United have a unenviable 100% success ratio at the Champions League final. But then no Champions have been able to retain their title till now. But I do have a feeling that this final will not dissappoint anyone, especially football fans.

Apr 25, 2008

Ferguson may have to look back to the tactics employed against BarcelonaAfter all the disappointment from a match which was billed as the final before the final, the soccer world has slowly started accepting the tactics used by Manchester United. Many sections of English press came up with praise to Ferguson's master tactic at Nou Camp; many sections are still openly criticizing him for a chance let gone. Barcelona's attack line up is being constantly ridiculed by the English press citing the fact that they could not conjure up a goal, even though they had more than 65% of possession. From a European Championship's perspective, Ferguson might have pulled out a master stroke. His entire pre match talks of how important the away goal was; served as a camouflage in itself. For Barcelona also the fact that they have not scored in the last two matches is a worrying factor.

But was Ferguson tactic right? It all depends on which ship you are in. But I have to agree with one fact - Ferguson might have let gone the best chance to destroy Barcelona. If you have watched the earlier exchange in the game, Barcelona team looked a bit nervy, shaky. That nervousness resulted in the free kick which ultimately earned the penalty kick. But Ferguson with his tactics allowed Barcelona time to settle down. Especially when you consider the Barcelona players - Deco never played for ages, Messi not fully match fit, Abidal was discarded for earlier matches; he should have been a little more adventurous. I thought the weak link in Barcelona defense, Marquez was never put under enough pressure by the Manchester side. If he has taken the risk to attack a bit more, they might have scored an away goal which would have made the second leg pretty easy.

Don't get me wrong here, ManU still start as absolute favourite in the second leg. But the problem for ManU will be that they need to win this, whereas Barcelona can go through with goal scoring draw. Ferguson has already vowed to attack Barca at Old Trafford. But whether he will surely do it is yet to be seen; especially considering the fact that a Barcelona goal could be disastrous. If Manchester United is going to play their natural game then Barcelona will definitely find spaces to exploit. How intimidating will be Old Trafford atmosphere, will be another factor which will decide the match. The last time Manchester United came up with a Goal less draw against Real Madrid, the return leg they lose 3-0.

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