Manchester United all but secured the Barclays Premier League title on Sunday with a 2-1 victory over Chelsea which put them six points ahead of their closest challengers with just two games to go. Although United still need a point to officially secure the title, they can now start turning their attention to the prospect of a mouthwatering final with the Spanish Champions on May 28th.
The general consensus among the football media is that Barcelona are unstoppable and that United are very much second favourites for the Wembley showdown. The opinion is that this is not as strong a Manchester United side in recent years and as a result Barcelona will be too strong for them.
On a player by player basis, I would agree with the first half of that statement. Wayne Rooney aside, United do not have a truly world class player in the mould of Cristiano Ronaldo or Carlos Tevez. However, as a collective unit, this is arguably one of the most dogged and determined United sides of recent times.
Sure, away from home United have been nothing more than ordinary this season and have leaked goals at an alarming rate. But as has always been a trait in Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, when they have needed to get the job done, they have got it done. Last weeks defeat at Arsenal was disappointing but owed as much to a strong performance from Arsene Wenger’s men than it did to poor play from United. However as they have done in responding to defeats by Manchester City and others this season, United bounced back with a victory when it mattered to all but clinch the Premiership title.
That new additions are required in the summer is without question, but there is enough about this group of players - who have scored in every home match this season and are unbeaten at Old Trafford - to win the trophy at Wembley later this month.
United are capable of organising their defensive line in a way that Barcelona do not regularly encounter and with the pace on the break of Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Luis Antonio Valencia, they have more than enough to cause Pep Guardiola’s men problems. Ferguson will still hope to get Darren Fletcher back into his side to face the Catalans but with the pressure off in the remaining games with Blackburn and Blackpool, he has time and freedom to tinker with his side to find a winning formula.
Written by Eddie Smith, a sports blogger who writes about classic football shirts.