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Ignore the aura

United must have a go because Barca are beatable

Jamie Redknapp - Jamie Redknapp Posted 26th May 2011 view comments

Barcelona are not unbeatable.

That is the one thing everybody seems to be overlooking. We saw Inter do it last season, we have seen Arsenal do it this season and Real Madrid do it in a big, one-off cup final, and that is what Manchester United have to remember.

Hidden danger: Pedro might just be the man to watch, warns Jamie

Hidden danger: Pedro might just be the man to watch, warns Jamie

They are without doubt the most fantastic football side I have seen in my lifetime and they do have an aura about them which most teams cannot handle, but they are by no means perfect.

Look at Roger Federer, look at Tiger Woods; we all thought these guys would never lose because they were that good, but we've seen they can be beaten - and so can Barca.

The biggest problem United are are going to have is spending long periods of the game without the ball. That will happen against Barca and they will get tired and frustrated and at times, they will end up chasing their tails. It is something United do not have to deal with in the Premier League and that is my biggest worry.

Jamie Redknapp
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United have to believe that. They will know they have enough match-winners of their own at Wembley and if you are looking at a team to upset the odds on the biggest stage of all, then who better?

Mind you, it is going to be very, very difficult. The biggest problem they are going to have is spending long periods of the game without the ball. That will happen against Barca and they will get tired and frustrated and at times, they will end up chasing their tails. It is something United do not have to deal with in the Premier League and that is my biggest worry.

It's impossible to say - other than praying for devine intervention - how you stop Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Pedro and David Villa and in a way that's no bad thing, because I do think the biggest thing United have to focus on is what they do when they're in possession.

When you're playing Barcelona, you have to keep the ball; you cannot turn it over cheaply because they will make you pay. United will know they are not going to dominate, so they will make sure they do whatever they can to hurt Barca whenever they can.

Barcelona to win in 90 minutes, evens with Sky Bet

That is why I think we will see Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick start in the middle. They are both great technicians, great passers of the ball and that is going to be needed. There is talk of Darren Fletcher coming in to man-mark Messi, but I can't see it. For a start he has not played enough football for a big game like this and secondly, United need their best passers.

We might see Ji-Sung Park join them in a middle three with Antonio Valencia on the right, maybe Wayne Rooney on the left, and Chicharito up front. But then I am not so sure asking Rooney to play out on the left is the best idea in such a big game and not sure it sends out the right signal. United want him where he likes to play; which could be up top on his own or in behind Xavier Hernandez.

I am not about to second guess Sir Alex Ferguson but I just think, knowing what a master of psychology he is, that he will want a positive line-up and a positive approach from his team. It might be that he goes 4-4-2 and says 'we're Manchester United, this is what we do best'.


I have been watching the 2009 final back and United actually started off really well. They pressed Barcelona brilliantly, high up the pitch, forced errors, corners and could've been 1-0 up. But then one small mistake from Carrick after nine minutes, they're 1-0 down and from then on, it's an impossible task.

They will have learned from that and they will know that every single one of them has to be on their game, for every second of every minute. Switch off against these players and before you know it, they are in on goal. Rio Ferdinand and Nemankja Vidic will have the hardest job, not just because of the players they are up against, but because for a lot of the time they will have no-one to mark.

Messi, Villa and Pedro will all move about across that front line and they will all drop deep, creating space for someone else to run into. Every single Manchester United player has to watch the runners; they have to have the confidence to be able to pass someone on to the next man, because if you follow the ball, or get attracted to Messi, it leaves you wide open. That is what Barcelona do. They pass you to bits, then wait for you to tire or switch off and then they pounce. It is a very swift end to a very slow death.

Pedro to score anytime, 5/2 with Sky Bet

Then you have to worry about Dani Alves down the right and I have to say that is another area of concern. I am not sure, defensively, Patrice Evra has had his best season and with Villa, Pedro, Messi and Alves all capable of attacking down his side, he will need some help - which might fall to Park in a left-sided role.

But dealing with Barcelona is the one question the whole of football is looking for the answer to. Do you attack them or do you try and keep your shape, frustrate them? Again, Arsenal beat them by having a go at The Emirates and maybe Sir Alex will think that is his best bet.


This is also a United side that is flying. They have eased through this competition, have not conceded an away goal and they are coming off the back of winning the Premier League. You can easily turn it round and say Barcelona won't have faced anyone like them this season. They are a side that loves winning and is geared up for winning.

And I don't subscribe to this idea that this United side is not great, either. They are a a great team, maybe not with great inviduals. But Pep Guardiola knows they have some world-class players in their squad; whether he pays them special attention or not remains to be seen, because that's not their way.

There's no doubt United have the players, and the bench, to hurt a side that can be got at defensively. We don't know what state Carles Puyol is in, we don't know if we're going to see Javier Mascherano in central defence; like I say, they are not invincible and by no means perfect.

My honest opinion is that Barcelona will be too good on the day. But I wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised if Manchester United won this, I really wouldn't.

Redknapp Reckons

I am going for Barcelona to win 2-1. It would be great to see an English team win the Champions League but in all honesty, as a football fan, I don't mind either way. We are talking about the two biggest clubs in Europe, if not the world, and the two best sides right now, playing at Wembley in the biggest club game there is. What more can any fan ask for? I really do hope it's a great game and I think if Sir Alex has a go - and I have a feeling he will - it will be worthy of the occasion. If United do pull it off they are going to have to be right on their game all night long and they are going to have to ride their luck as well, and we all know they've done it before in big games.

Jamie's Gems

Pedro (Barcelona) and Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) - Everyone is talking about Messi but for me, Pedro is the one that can do real damage if you take your eye off him. He makes so many clever runs and he is pretty direct when he's in the box. He is a very clinical finisher too and if they get caught up watching Messi, Villa and Iniesta, he will sneak up and hit United where it hurts. As for Rooney, United need him to have a big game, more than Barcelona need Messi. If he plays behind Hernandez he will have a big say, but if he does play him out wide, I am not sure we will see him firing on all cylinders. He will want to play down the middle, he will want to get on the ball, not spend the night chasing Alves. And he will want a big, big performance. If United are going to nick this, they will need just that from Rooney.

Comments (15)

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Robert Whyte (Manchester United fan) says...

As a Man United fan I hoped that reading these articles would help it come true. To lose to a team as good at Barca is nothing to feel bad about, I doubt anyone who watches football has ever seen a display of such effective controlled passing and pressure, ever! Barca are worthy Champions and it was a pleasure to watch them play, even though it was against my own side. Messi will prove himself to be the greatest player ever within a short space of time, he's brilliant and also has a great attitude!

Posted 10:18 30th May 2011

Pat Hoffpauir (Chelsea fan) says...

Man U will have to pick their game up a few notches to beat a well oiled team like Barcelona

Posted 01:06 30th May 2011

Stuart Snaith (Dundee United fan) says...

barca should and will win if they dont stop the play makers for mr messi

Posted 18:52 28th May 2011

Callum Henshall (Arsenal fan) says...

The key to this game for Man Utd, is getting Rooney between the centre backs and Busquets, with Hernandez hanging on the shoulder of Puyol. This will make it difficult for Busquets to break up the play as he will have to keep an eye on Rooney, who in turn will try to draw Puyol out of the defensive line. If they can do this, Hernandez will have the space to get in behind Barcelona, with Giggs being given the key role of finding him. To give themselves a chance of enacting this tactic, the back four and Carrick have to be disciplined. Barcelona are likely to play Messi in the central position, but he will in no way lead the line. He will drop deep, in a similar position to Rooney. As long as Vidic and Ferdinand remain disciplined and don't break from their line to close Messi, then the gaps will not appear for Messi and Iniesta to enact their magic. This means Carrick is going to have to be at his best in protecting Vidic and Ferdinand. I don't mean that he has to perform a Roy Keane role, getting in players faces and unsettling them. He needs to be on his toes, stepping in to break up the plays. Barcelona thrive on people diving in, through quick passing and movement. Don't give them this option. Let them pass it between themselves from deep, and step in to intersept when they make their move. If Man Utd lose their discipline on this front, Barcelona will punish them Barcelona are beatable, and as dissappointing as it is to admit, I think Man Utd are the team with the best balance of players to achieve this.

Posted 16:12 28th May 2011

Ather Abbas (Manchester United fan) says...

If we get in their faces and dont let them play we have a chance, we just have to go for it. In rome we lost because we were too negative, yes barcelona are a good team but nobodys unbeatable! i just wish for a great game of football no diving, no ill calls by the referee just total football being Displayed COME ON MAN U!!!!

Posted 16:11 28th May 2011

Imran Ahmed (Manchester United fan) says...

I'm a Manchester united fan an I think it's pretty obvious that Barcelona are going to win the one thing Manchester united fans do which I as a fan don't understand is get to exited I think they have forgotten how good Barcelona are and even if Messi is man marked he has 10 other players playing at his level and to do that you have to be good. Not even that how on earth can you over exited fans get ahead of your selves barcelona are the best team in the world, and by the way Man utd are not winning a cup in that poxy white kit it's unthinkable

Posted 21:02 27th May 2011

Mark Green (Arsenal fan) says...

If carrick plays Man united will struggle to keep possession. He cannot pass under pressure, which is what barcelona are best at. It was proven against City when Yaya toure pressed carrick and Was proven time and time again in the 2009 final. He's useless.

Posted 19:21 27th May 2011

Jay Hussain (Liverpool fan) says...

Although I'm a liverpool supporter, i must say that I can see United winning, purely based on the fact that United have shown some of the most disciplined football this year. A Valencia symbolizes this as He tracks back to help his full backs and Park's energy to cover in midfield. Everyone is going on about Barca's football being too fluent but as long as United stay focused and dont get frustrated, i think United will have them. Key man for me is A Valencia, too quick for abidal or maxwell and thats where they want to expose the barca defence. Agreeing with redknapp on pedro; great player. United have a great chance if they put in a great performance but I think Barca will win 2-1 but like redknapp said, I wouldn't be suprised if United pulled one out the bag.

Posted 19:02 27th May 2011

Sunday Salihu (Barcelona fan) says...

barcelona are winning because its our birth right 2 win in wembly

Posted 17:21 27th May 2011

Donald King (Manchester United fan) says...

Seems like every one has something to say, so i should have as well something to say here... whatsoever you people think its gonna be, but Man United "the Red Devils" are going to beat barcelona 4-1. Enough said come saturday. VUVUZELA spirit all the way to Wembley.

Posted 17:14 27th May 2011

Larry Sequeira (Tottenham Hotspur fan) says...

United need to press Barcalona for the ball. Yes they like keeping it and frustrating the opposition but if United sit back and wait then Barcalona will get frustrated. The idea of playing keep ball is to get United players to come out of position and thereby create the openings for players like Messi and Pedro to run into. This is a "home" game for United so take them to win 2-0.

Posted 16:40 27th May 2011

Andrew Crilly (Liverpool fan) says...

Unfortunately i have a sneaky feeling that utd will win. However i think they can only do this by defending for long periods of the game and look to hit Barcelona on the break. Fergusons comments that they will go out and attack Barcelona is absolute tosh, he knows as we all do that if you go and attack Barcelona they will pick you off . The general census is that if you stop Messi you stop Barcelona but Xavi is the key man, stop him and you stop the ball getting anywhere near messi.

Posted 15:53 27th May 2011

Brendan Cosgrave (Aston Villa fan) says...

Utd need to start fast and upset their pattern of play. i want to see them pressing Barca back like they do to everyone,every player over their marker like a cheap suit. Thats normally Barca's turf but i know UTD are better at it ! Thats why with most of the country behind them i' m betting 2 - 0 UTD.

Posted 13:51 27th May 2011

Daz Port (Newcastle United fan) says...

I honestly believe united will win this game.. at first i had my doubts and i know that barcelona will not pin point any player on the field they will play attacking football and i think this suits united as they play to counter attack.. and with hernandez running off puyol and pique who i think are well over rated. I can honestly see puyol getting sent off with hernandez running in behind i dont think he will cope atall with this.. and as for if united go behind they wont be able to come back.. i disagree totally because even if barca do take the lead they arent going to sit back and try hold it out and that leaves the door open for hernandez and rooney. United team to start : Van der sar.. Fabio.. Ferdinand.. vidic.. evra.. valencia.. park.. giggs.. fletcher.. rooney.. hernandez also i dont think barcelona have strength in depth.. mascherano is theyre only decent resource in my opinion.. 2-0 united hernandez and rooney to score.

Posted 13:30 27th May 2011

Anthony Sherrick (Liverpool fan) says...

This pains me to say it but I can actually see a Utd win, which will surely cement a place in history for SAF as the greatest club manager to have graced the english game (my Liverpool heart is weeping). One player who is not getting too much mention is David Villa, and I can see either of the twins, whoever starts, getting steamrolled, especially as they are still maturing on the defensive front. I am just hoping we will see both teams going for a win (wen Utd can get the ball), and when they do I can see them being more decisive than Barca, who undoubtedly will create chances, but having watched a lot of theri games, Messi could easlity have had 70 goals this season, the clinical approach of Man Utd could be the decisive factor!

Posted 13:06 27th May 2011

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