Manchester United is a cunning team who play a vintage 4-4-2 formation and, when focused, do well controlling games against big teams, as with their three recent wins against Chelsea, a side who always used to kill them. While Barcelona my be slightly overrated by a droolingly uncritical press who’ve made them poster kids for liberal self-congratulation despite their racist players, they play the best and most attractive football of any club in memory, and have five or six of the best position players in the world, including Leo Messi, who’s in a class by himself. To beat Barcelona, Utd will need a number of things to go their way, and, if any single one of them doesn’t, they will lose. (You should probably be told, gentle reader, that I’m a Man Utd fan.) It’s not impossible for Utd to pull this off, but it’s highly unlikely.
Here is a list of things Utd need to do to win:
Squeeze Out Service To Messi
Lionel Messi is almost impossible to stop, except when he plays for Argentina, when he never gets the ball in dangerous places and has almost no influence at all. Germany contained him without sweating, and, to do the same, Utd will need to keep the ball from getting to him in the box. Because he moves back and forth and side-to-side, Utd will cede possession if he’s far from the goal, but try to angle him away if he’s in the area. Also, once he gets the ball, he’ll need to be smothered. He cannot be allowed to pass to open teammates.