Date: 5th May 2011 at 6:00pm
Written by:

Manchester United Barcelona Rome

Can The Reds avoid a repeat of Rome?

There are easier tasks than this. Finding a way to beat one of the best teams ever to walk onto a football pitch is not easy but Sir Alex Ferguson and his Manchester United team must find a way of doing that if they are to lift the European Cup at Wembley.

These are my propositions providing everyone is fit and available.

First things first, United win the defensive battle. If Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic are fit then that will be a huge boost. United have only conceded four goals all competition, half than Barca, so there’s already reason to be in confident mood.

But here’s the conundrum: How do you stifle that Barcelona midfield but attack them at the same time.

The best way to get at Barcelona is down the wings with pace, so I would definitely start Antonio Valencia on the right. His pace, crossing, dribbling ability, defensive work and finishing would cause any team problems.

On the left I’d have Park Ji Sung, purely for his tenacity and longevity. He can harry and hassle that Barcelona midfield all night long while others take advantage of the space that it creates. Park did this supremely well in the first leg against Chelsea and it proved vital.

The dilemma left is who and how many you play in central midfield to stem that unbelievably strong Barca midfield as well as having enough players to go forward and create chances for yourself.

You can attack….

One way to go about it would be to sacrifice a central midfielder and play Rooney off Hernandez with Giggs and Carrick in the middle. This may be a risky strategy against a team with Barcelona’s prowess in midfield but it would give United more attacking options, something which Arsenal suffered badly from when they played Barcelona in the Nou Camp.

In that game, Robin Van Persie was completely stranded up front and had very little support from the Arsenal midfield, thus allowing Barcelona to take control and continue to attack wave after wave. With Rooney playing behind Hernandez, you would not have the same problem because Rooney would act as the linkup man between the midfield and attack.

The problem this leaves, though, is the vulnerability of the midfield. When you have the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta up against you, you need all the midfielders you can get. However, Arsenal used a similar lineup to this at the Emirates and it paid off as they won the game 2-1, albeit courtesy of some wayward Barcelona finishing.

If you were to play this team then the key would be to score first and take a lead into the second half where you can then use your replacements to hold onto that lead.

My bench would be: Kuszack, O’Shea, Smalling, Fletcher, Scholes, Anderson, Berbatov. If United were leading on the hour mark then I would bring Fletcher on for Hernandez and play a five-man midfield with Rooney up top on his own. I’d also be inclined to bring the anergy of Anderson on for Giggs.

Or you can pack the midfield and sit back…

I think this strategy would prove successful in preventing Barcelona’s making forward progress. The energy and tenacity of Fletcher, Anderson and Park would stifle that midfield but the problem you have is who would support Rooney up front.

If you were to do this then I’d also consider to perhaps start Nani ahead of Park, purely for his attacking outlet and ability to create something out of nothing. But his lack of defensive qualities would count against him.

This choice of lineup would force you to flood the bench with attacking options, the likes of Berbatov and Hernandez would have to be there.

My choice…

My starting XI would be somewhere in the middle, you need the energy in the midfield but you can’t afford not to have an attacking outlet. The other key decision is who to start at right back; John O’Shea or Rafael Da Silva. I’d edge towards O’Shea, purely for his experience.

I also feel that Giggs has to start. He maybe getting on a bit but a man with two Champions League’s winners medals cannot be left out. He was the star of the show against Chelsea and the United midfield can look lost without him. I’d start him behind Rooney so he can play the free role, linking up between the striker and midfield.

Bench: Kuzsack, Smalling, Fabio, Anderson, Scholes, Nani, Hernandez.

Having conceded four less goals than Barcelona in the competition and gone unbeaten so far, there are plenty of encouraging signs for United fans as we look ahead to a European Cup final against the mighty Barcelona at Wembley. And it does not get better than that.



50 responses to “How United Can Beat The Mighty Barcelona”

  1. ithebruce says:

    Intelligent and articulate?……whats a doofish?,donkeys and honey,i wonder what your “intelligent and informed” friends make of your rantings?do you think such a diatribe could be published anywhere else but a blog,why can’t you discuss football without launching personal attacks?,have you been banned from the terraces?football has often been a place where the dissafected go to “vent thier spleen”,but do’nt confuse your anger and confrontational attitude with passion for football.You need to take a look in the the mirror,your statements about your intellect make you seem delusional.

  2. ChrisC says:


    Firstly, you are not as intelligent as you’d like to think you appear, I watch as many football matches as Sky and ESPN allow me to. That includes a LOT of Barcelona, United and Real Madrid matches.

    Barcelona and in particular Sergio Busquets, in my honest and uninfluenced opinion(Which is important, as you are clearly a Barca fan), play-act the most out of any team, in any notifiable league, in the world, now the CL Final has been and gone, did you see Busquets performance? I support neither team and I was honestly appalled by his tactics.

    Again you say breaking someones leg in the course of play is worse? Honestly, most of the time it is without intent accidents DO happen. Very few tackles which end in a break or fracture are malicious.

    However, rolling around on the flaw to try and INTENTIONALLY CON the referee. That is cheating.

    And it should be punished by bans, FIFA should take it seriously and start handing out 1 match bans.

    I don’t mean diving like most people do though, going down a little easier WHEN you have clearly been fouled is different, to win, anyone would do it. I mean when they blatantly haven’t even touched you and you fall to the floor holding your face, looking like you have just been sniped from somewhere up in the stand. That is the biggest disgrace in football today.

    So, StevenR, please do not hate me, purely because I have proved that there are many people who are more intelligent and articulate than yourself.

    There’s always a bigger fish. 😉