Friday, May 6, 2011

Fergie: No Fear of Barca - But We Would be Better with Brechin

A couple of nights ago as Manchester United achieved with the greatest possible ease the result even the most sceptical football follower could not have denied - a 4 - 1 victory in front of their own fans allowing a second string 11 to cruise their way past an over achieving Schalke side - most football fans across the world had long since shifted their thoughts to the mouth watering prospect of the Champions League final that awaits us - long before the final whistle was blown at Old Trafford. Wednesday night's semi final second leg fixture was almost a formality for United - who had built such a dominant platform from their 2 - 0 first leg victory away from home that they could afford to rest the majority of their first team with one eye on the weekend's critical league clash with Chelsea. However, as Alex Ferguson's men strode into yet another final they surely know the ultimate test of their footballing credentials still lies ahead - a clash of the titans at Wembley stadium against the imperious Barcelona.

     Whatever the "Special One" and his Real Madrid counterparts may have to say on the subject, few could deny Pep Guardiola's team boast majestic talent, and have fully deserved their reputation as the best club side in the world. And now the world awaits the Champions League final every neutral dreams of. In the press conference following United's victory, Ferguson had staunchly defended his team's Champions League credentials - claiming that while they had the ultimate respect for Barcelona as a fantastic side in terrific form, they would enter the tie without fear of the Spanish giants. However with the sublime talent of Messi in their ranks, even the great Glaswegian must surely fear a recurrence of their 2009 final defeat against the Catalan club - a night in which his side were left chasing shadows.

     When asked who he would like to have faced in the final and as to whether his team were out to avenge their 2 - 0 champions league final in Rome some 2 years ago, Fergie joked that a meeting with Scottish minnows Brechin City would have been preferable over the Spanish masters. Whether he opts for a combination of Anderson, Fletcher or Carrick in the centre of the park he will know they have to somehow stop Barca's playmakers Xavi and Iniesta from dominating possession and controlling the match as they have done so on so many occasions for both club and country over the last few years. With both sides boasting attacking full backs, the game may be open down the wings and could lead to an exciting fixture full of goals. Ferguson will hope however he can draw on the experience of solid centre back pairing Ferdinand and Vidic as well as ever-green keeper Edwin Van Der Sar to try and keep Barcelona at bay.