Barcelona defender Dani Alves made what at first glance may seem a pretty ridiculous statement recently.
Alves told reporters at a media open day at Barca’s Nou Camp stadium:
“This Manchester team is much more unpredictable without Cristiano Ronaldo,
“You can see now that they have built a much more balanced side, stronger than a couple of years ago, added the Brazilian, who missed the 2009 final through suspension.
“They are dangerous across the board and packed with great players.”
The reason I label it ‘ridiculous’ is that it would seem a bit far-fetched to claim any team that used to have a player of the calibre of Ronaldo is ‘stronger.’
However, there may be a small modicum of truth to Alves’s bold claim. After all the current United side has won the league and is in the final of the Champions league, just as the 2009 team were.
The current squad may have won the league with ten less points than 2009 but they’ve also scored ten more goals and been winners by a bigger margin, so it’s difficult to say which team is actually ‘better’ or at least more successful.
It’s also worth noting that in 2008-09 Ronaldo may have been United’s top scorer with 26 goals in all competitions but some of his attacking team mates, seemed to suffer in front of goal.
Carlos Tevez for example managed just five league goals in 18 games, while new signing Dimitar Berbatov failed to hit double figures in the EPL.
Compare that to this season where both Chicharito and Berbatov have been scoring goals for fun and suddenly there’s a validity to Alves’s statement.
I’m not talking about 2008 when Ronaldo swept all before him, I’m looking at the team that played Barcelona in Rome, the class of ’09, the side that at times looked like CR7’s supporting cast.
I’m not for one second claiming I wouldn’t welcome back Ronaldo with open arms were he to return to Old Trafford, what I’m asking is does the Barca full back have a point.
With no one ‘superstar’ yet a whole host of potential matchwinners, United may be at an advantage to the side that “didn’t turn up” in Rome.
Although there’s the counter arguement that it may be that lack of a true ‘superstar’ that prevents us from having a real chance against Barcelona. Chicharito, Rooney, Valencia, et al are all world class, but they’re arguably not quite contenders for the title of ‘world’s best’ which Ronnie is and was.
So the question is are United better equipped for the final without Ronaldo in the team?
Answers below or on a brick through the usual window please.