Blogger Templates by Blogcrowds

UEFA Champions League Final - Barcelona v Manchester United

Thursday, May 26, 2011

It has been a highly anticipated game, and now it is only two night away. I am of course talking about the Champions League final. Europe's biggest competition has so far been a very fascinating one and now we are about to reach the climax. Barcelona v Manchester United, who will be victorious.

Manchester United have surprised me this season. At the beginning of the season I thought to myself, how are Man United going to challenge this year. They hadn't really strengthened much, looked very weak in midfield and early on in the season their talisman Wayne Rooney wanted out of Old Trafford. Needless to say my opinion was someway off the truth. They really have been incredible this season. Their defence is second to none, the midfield has performed admirably and the revelation of Javier 'Chicarito' Hernandez along with the class of Rooney has made them an unstoppable force in the Premier League. In the Champions league they have also overcome some tough challenges, most notably the victories over Chelsea in the quarter finals. After beating a mediocre Schalke side in the semi's, they now face Barcelona in the final. Can they win? Of all the teams in Europe, I think Manchester United have the best chance of winning. Van Der Sar, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra and whoever they decide to play on the right side of defence are the most capable of dealing with Barcelona's attacking threat. Meanwhile, with Rooney and Chicarito scoring goals for fun, they are in with a very good shot.

Barcelona on the other hand are shaky in defence. At right back Dani Alves is a very good attacking full back, but as far as defence goes he just isn't up to scratch to me. Pique and Puyol are a solid pair but only a fraction as good as Vidic and Ferdinand. Abidal, should he start, is only recovered from a serious illness and will be a slight liability. The attack, however, is a far different story. Not very tall, but what they lack in strength they make up for with pace and willingness to close down. Villa, Pedro and Iniesta all have the ability to produce something magic. Xavi keeps everything ticking in the centre of midfield. I don't really need to explain the threat posed by Lionel Messi, its nearly as obvious as Dani Alves' dives.

It's going to be an interesting game. Barcelona are favourites to win but Man United are definitely worth a punt at a good price. In my opinion, it can either go two ways. One, Manchester United work their socks off in midfield and somehow manage to stop Messi in his tracks. Two, Barcelona dominate possession and end up walking all over their opposition. Who knows?

Can Liverpool become title contenders

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

After Kenny Dalglish was handed a long-term contract as manager of Liverpool recently, following a successful spell in caretaker charge, discussions began amongst football fans regarding how far he can take the team in the coming years.

Some then suggested they could be title contenders as early as next season. There have been some excellent performances under the Scotsman with new-signing Luiz Suarez showing that life after Fernando Torres can be very positive indeed.

The performances at home to Manchester City and away at Fulham have been a particular highlight and it is the team’s ability to play attractive football and score goals when they are in form that has got people talking.

Steven Gerrard needs to come back into the team too, so you can see why people are predicting good things as the team heads into a new era. The love of Dalglish, the impact of the new-signings, the fact that money will be spent in the summer and the style of football being played have all contributed to people talking up Liverpool.

Are they ready for a title challenge though? Probably not. To go from 6th position and fighting for a Europa League place to competing with Manchester United and Chelsea for the title is quite a big jump.

Perhaps the progression should be less drastic. There is no doubt they are heading in the right direction, but the target for next season should be to bring Champions League football back to Anfield. Then, with that in the bag, they can look towards being the team to beat in England once again.

All of this is positive chat though as far as Liverpool are concerned. Things were looking rather bleak earlier in the campaign and even though the 2010 / 2011 ended with two defeats at the hands of Tottenham and Aston Villa, they can go into the summer months in good spirits.

Dalglish’s movement in the transfer market will of course be crucial to what next season can bring. The men wearing a Liverpool Kit next year will be charged with taking the team forward positively, so it is crucial the former Blackburn boss brings in some quality.

Some more players in the Suarez mould would suit just fine. Then, if he can have Andy Carroll fit for the start of the season that will feel like a new signing too. As will the return of Gerrard.

Beyond that, a handful of new personnel are needed if Liverpool are to be one of the top four teams in the country again. Who knows, if a couple of world-class players are added too, the spirit of Dalglish and the feel good factor could even take them beyond that eventually.

One step at a time though.