The stage has been set, and FCB and MUFC will play on May 28th in the 2011 Champions League Final. MUFC breezed through the semis, sending out a Carling cup side in the second leg to crush Schalke 4-1 on the night, while FCB survived four El Clasicos in 18 days to prevail 3-1 on aggregate, in a tie complete with playacting, moments of brilliance, red cards and conspiracy theories. Both teams won their first European Cups at the old Wembley (MUFC in ’68 and FCB in ’92); both teams have been at the forefront of domestic and continental competitions over the last 10 years; and both teams met in the final two years ago.
In 2009, I went off the grid and waited to watch the Champions League Final between
I didn’t know who I wanted to win the game, in a match that went back and forth, United have a couple of early chances. But then E’too popped up and clipped the ball over Van de Sar, and suddenly it was 1-0 FCB. Usually when Barca score I’m pounding the table, internally screaming my head off, yet at that moment I was conflicted. Manchester United were going after back to back League and European Doubles, which would have been an amazing achievement, while FCB were going for a historic treble under first year coach and former player Pep Guardiola. I follow both teams, with United being my first love, and
Two years ago,
FCB swept all before them in 2009, dominating MUFC on their way to a historic treble. Some of the players have changed, especially in attack (Villa and Pedro), and this time they should have a first choice defense as opposed to Rome where it was held together with tape and string. The blaugrana probably peaked just before the New Year and are not hitting the heights of earlier this season. Their possession is still quite impressive, but they have been lacking in finishing and have had defensive frailties exposed to a certain extent.
Now two years on, I am faced with the same quandary. United have ground out results on all fronts and are on the cusp of an amazing return. They are not super sexy with CR7 running around or Rooney and Tevez buzzing around creating havoc.
The game is still a couple of weeks away, and it will be hard to watch it as a neutral. Right now I’m leaning towards FCB, only because I want history to remember this team. Next year they will challenge the Dream Team for four titles in a row, and if they have a second Champions League to go with four straight semi-final appearances, they may go down as the best
This pinnacle of club football should be an enthralling afternoon, but already it feels muted. Part of that comes from what Soccernomics would call being a polygamous fan. Gone are the days when it was one fan, one club for life. Here I am “devoted” to several teams, my emotions and time splintered instead of deeply rooted in one team. Maybe by gameday I will have to come to some sort of peace about the game. If not, I’ll just have a couple of pints and hope there is a footballing spectacle on show.