UEFA Champions League Final
Saturday 28th May 2011, Kick-off: 19:45
Wembley Stadium, London
Barcelona v Manchester United
Europe’s two biggest footballing giants do battle for the biggest prize in club football, in a repeat of the 2009 Champions League final.
Barcelona comfortably defeated Manchester United 2-0 that day with goals from Eto’o and Messi and the Catalans are again favourites in this years final. Barca are undoubtedly the best footballing side in the world and have been for a number of years and the task for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men is unenviable in stopping the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Villa and the imperial Lionel Messi from controlling the game.
Team News & Line Ups
It is likely that Ferguson will field the same back line that started at the Olimpico in Rome two years ago with Van Der Sar, O’Shea, Vidic, Ferdinand and Evra. The only exception might be Rafael slotting in at right back, however the young Brazilian full back’s discipline is questionable. Last year at the quarter final stage Rafael was sent off with Manchester United 3-0 up against Bayern Munich. Bayern went on to score 2 goals at Old Trafford and knocked Manchester United out of the Champions League competition.
Further forward and Carrick has ticked back into form nicely at the end of the season and looks set to start alongside Ryan Giggs. Fletcher was a big miss in the 2009 final and his combative display and experience should earn him a starting place. Park and Rooney will likely operate wide with Hernandez playing up top. Antonio Valencia seems like the unlucky player this year who looks set to only make the bench, although the Ecuadorian winger will surely feature at some point, along with Nani.
For Pep Guardiola and Barcelona, Valdes will be between the sticks with Dani Alves at right back, Puyol and Gerard Pique at centre half with either Maxwell, Adriano or Abidal likely to slot in at left back. The usual midfield trio of Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets seems likely with Pedro, Villa and Messi in the forward line. Mascherano has enjoyed a good run in the Barca team in a variety of positions and might force himself into the starting eleven of another big game.
Form & Preparation
Favourite’s Barcelona’s preparation has hardly been ideal. They have had to travel to England 48 hours early because of the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland. Barca’s preparations in last years competition was also hampered by the ash cloud and the two day coach trip surely did not help matters as they were eliminated by Inter Milan.
Barcelona do not carry a great run of form into the Champions League final having only won 2 of their last 6 games and 4 in their last 10. Barcelona have also had a run of 4 ‘El Clasicos’ in 17 days to contend with not so long ago. Manchester United conversely go into the final in good form. The Red Devils have won 5 of their last 7 and 12 of their last 16 games and have looked incredibly assured and competent in Europe this season, especially on the road. Manchester United have won 5 of 6 away games in the Champions League this season and have not conceded a single goal along the way.
Statistics & History
- Only 5 in 18 Champions League finals have ended all square in 90 minutes and every single one of these has gone on to be decided on penalties, so a winner each way in 90 minutes seems more likely than not.
- 3 of the last 4 Champions League finals have had teams winning at the break and then going on to win at 90 minutes. Barcelona of course led in 2009 at half time before going on to lift the trophy in normal time.
- Over 80% of matches in the Champions League final have seen goals in the first half
Best Bet: Over 0.5 Goals in the First Half @1.61
Value Bet: Barcelona HT/FT @3.20
Long Shot: Man Utd HT/FT @6.5
Looking to Bet on the Match?
Paddy Power are offering a Champions League Money Back Special. If Barcelona win the match in normal time, then Paddy Power will refund all losing 1st and last goalscorer, correct score and scorecast singles on the match.
Betfair have a ‘Choose Your Bonus’ offer that let’s new customers choose between a £25 and £600 bonus. This offer is only available up until Saturday evening, but is extremely good and ideal for punters who are looking to be involved and joining a betting exchange for the first time. The offer is available on this post and on the home page up until Saturday evening, whereby it will be removed.
Bet365 have a fantastic free bet offer, wherby if you place a pre-match bet on the Champions League final, then bet365 will give you a free In-Play bet to the same stake on the Champions League Final up to £50.00.