Manchester United-Barcelona set for most lucrative Champions League final
Manchester United and Barcelona are set for the most lucrative final in the history of European club football as the winner of Saturday's Champions League final at the historic Wembley Stadium will pocket cash to the tune of 110 million pounds.sports Updated: May 27, 2011 20:00 IST
Manchester United and Barcelona are set for the most lucrative final in the history of European club football as the winner of Saturday's Champions League final at the historic Wembley Stadium will pocket cash to the tune of 110 million pounds.
UEFA, the sports governing body in Europe, couldn't have hoped for a better dream final with the two best clubs of the world pitted against each other for the most coveted trophy.
Barcelona will again display the kind of football that made Spain the World Champions. The short-passing game has become synonymous with Barcelona and their tiki-taka game at the Wembley can well become a lesson for English football.
Spain switched to the short-passing game in 2006, which also helped them win the 2008 Euro Cup, after they realised that they have short players, who weren't physically tough. Barcelona form the core of the Spanish team and the Catalan giants also share the same philosophy.
Leo Messi and Pedro are no more than 5ft 6½in while Xavi and Andres Iniesta are both 5ft 7in. Javier Mascherano and Dani Alves are only 5ft 8in. Small, certainly, but their kind of game has helped them control the ball and the opponent. A lesson for English footballers, who are faltering when it comes to technique.
It was Dutch legend Johan Cryuff, who introduced a refined version of Total Football at Barcelona, and their game flourished under Louis van Gaal and Frank Rijkaard while Pep Guardiola refined it further.
Against Barcelona's short players, it is certainly going to be a tall order for Manchester United. They will have to take their chances against Barcelona and have to hope that they are the first to get the ball.
Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, both over 6ft 2in and not the quickest on the turn, will also have to defend for their lives. There is a good chance that Messi, Pedro and Villa will be getting under their feet.
United defence has been the most talked about but they have also conceded 37 goals in the Premier League. This is more than in any season since 2001-2002, when United finished third. In 2008-2009, they went 14 games without conceding a league goal.
For both the teams, the Champions League will be an icing on the cake, financially as well. A new financial study commissioned by MasterCard revealed that the record windfall for the winners. The losers will also benefit to the tune of an estimated 63 million pounds.
The report also said the final will be worth 45 million pounds to the host city, London, and the city of the club that wins is likely to receive an economic boost of 15 million pounds through increased tourism and increased local expenditure.
First Published: May 27, 2011 19:57 IST