Two days hence the biggest event since we were nearly Raptured away is happening. I know you were sitting in your home, office, shantytown, and thinking to your self: “self, I wonder what the writers for this blog that I read religiously predict for the final on Saturday, I wish they would compile them all in one location.” Well, have no fear reader, because after scouring the emails and waiting on certain people who take forever to reply (read: Isaiah), we’re finally ready to go. Feel free to agree, or disagree as you will. Linda was unable to take part unfortunately.
Isaiah-Founder, overlord, jive turkey: 2-0 Barça
“The game itself should be fun. The questions leading up to it are all about United’s formation and Barça’s back line health, but when kickoff happens, we should see some serious fun and some seriously talented players having that fun. Goals by Eto’o, err I mean Pedro and Messi. Valdes saves well from Park early on, but then Anderson in the middle screws up and Iniesta torches him and provides the assist. From there, it’s all over except the trophy ceremony and the lauding from the journos. Greatest club team in history? Can they repeat in Germany next year? Which Icelandic volcano will keep them from doing it?”
Kevin-“Editor,” talking head, floor general: 2-1 Barça
“If Villa is as (Kevin said a naughty word) as he’s been of late, we’re screwed. Can’t beat them with just Messi. Pedro isn’t going to be the difference maker. You can cover him with a single man. He CAN be the difference maker if Messi and Villa are on. Rooney is the wild card. He’s a freed man with no more Thong Boy in the side. And Chicharito is a pain. Possession will be more important than ever before. Personally, I don’t think that straight up, they can beat us. But if somebody gives the ball away in the wrong spot (cough! Zambrotta! cough!) suddenly we’re down a goal, and the wagons are circled.
The side will be rested and full-strength, and neither side will have the fully honed match fitness, which means that natural talent starts to carry the day. We have the most talented player(s) on the planet at a few positions. I don’t see a 3-0, but I can easily see a 2-1, with goals by Pique and Iniesta.”
Luke-Honey badger, wisenheimer, naked & famous: 3-1 Barça
“Goals by Messi x 2, Iniesta, and Chicharito. It’s not that Manchester United is such a weak side that they will or can be easily manhandled or that Sir Alex is some bush league tactician who knows nothing about the game, it’s that they have already stated they have no real plan for Messi (like Mou did with Pepe) and with Messi, Pedro, Villa, Xavi, and Iniesta all starting, along with Afellay in reserve, that’s 6 players who are difficult enough to prepare for without taking into account Alves and Busquets. The problems will come from the back like they have recently, but not from Rooney. It will be the sneaky Little Pea who will give the back line fits and with lingering questions at LB, the health of Puyol in some question, and Abidal’s slow return all in focus, it would mean VV has to stand on his head to make this Barcelona’s 4th European title and a huge Double. It’s not that I’m overconfident, I’m not, it’s just that I have so much respect for Messi in these huge games and Xaviniesta create plays better than any tandem in the world.”
Soccermom-Holy mother, Kanye West’s hypeman, union winner: 2-1 Barça
“I honestly have not the slightest idea, except for some really bad puns involving Bárdarbunga and plays by Eugene O’Neill. Don’t quote me directly but I’m going for Barça 2 – Man U. 1, goals by: Chicarito (min. 8), Messi (p., min. 37) and Iniesta (min. 68). Because really, why the hell not?”
Colin-British name, live blogging machine, thug life: 2-1 Barça
“Barcelona wins 2-1, with Messi and Pedro scoring. In my mind I’ve been billing this game as the Magnificent Barcelona against Stalwart Manchester. Early on it will be a very even match, but Barcelona will find the goal first and Manchester will be forced to chase the match. Xavi, Iniesta, and Messi will form a roving triangle of death for Manchester that they just won’t be able to stop. Manchester will pull one back in the second half, and it will be a nervy ending but Barcelona has the mental toughness to be champions, and they will repeat the win from two years ago”
Kari-Canadian, owner/operator of Cesc fan club, daughter of Jens Lehman: 3-0 Barça
“This match really depends on the first goal. Cliche, I know, but really. I don’t think Man Utd will be going all out against us, because, well, with all due respect that’d be suicide. My brain tells me they’ll play a conservative game and look to hit us on the counter using their pace (which is why I think Valencia will start), so it won’t be a high scoring game. Luckily, we’ve had ample time to work out how to play against such a team (4 times in fact. Ahem.) The boys are really, really ready for this one. I’m sure that Xavi and co. feel really pumped at the thought of winning the CL in the same stadium the club won its very first in 1992. They’re romantics like that. (And I am too).
Messi will probably be quadruple teamed but that leaves space for Pedro! and Villa to exploit. Iniesta will be massive in this match with his attacking forays (just chut de bol, Andres! Good things happen when you do! Like birth rates go up!) and to add to the team’s confidence is that our resident caveman of a captain is back, and our best outfield player of the season that isn’t Messi that come back from a liver tumor will feature as well. It’s both full backs and Villa’s first final and we want to win this one. United have boatloads of quality and will have their fair share of chances, but our ‘keeper Valdes is in a rich vein of form and it won’t be easy to beat him. I respect United, but I have faith in this team. I want this CL. Badly.
Official prediction that I wish will become a reality: 3-0, Barcelona: Villa, Messi, Abidal (what can I say? I’m a romantic.)”
Euler – Bridge Wanderer, Rinus Michels StickerCollector: 3-1 Barça
Barça have been off form for several months. With two weeks off and one game left to play I believe they’ll circle back towards maximum performance. Look for Barça to come out and press with great intensity like they did against Arsenal at Camp Nou. I expect that level of energy.
Manchester United is a wonderful club –- better than many give them credit for. However, United are weakest in the one area where you just can’t afford to give against Barça –- in the space between the lines. In turn Manchester United are going to be forced to make very difficult trade-offs in how they play, and how they allocate game resources.
Perhaps the key player for Barça is going to be the LB, who will most likely (hopefully?) be Abidal. United will look to circumvent the midfield when they are in possession, and look to play the ball out very fast to the wings to build play. The danger man for them is Valencia –- who is a wonderful flank player. Valencia lines up where Barça are in theory most vulnerable due to injury and lack of form. If the left back can contain the United right wing player, Barça will be that much more secure in winning. The other player who will need to be in form for Barça is Busquets, as he will likely be responsible for marking Rooney in his unorthodox role.
Goals by Messi, Ghostface and Pedro. Havoc wrought by all the blaugrana!
So there you have it, a lot of 2-1’s and everyone taking Barcelona for their 4th European title.