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Manchester United v Barcelona – The Key Battles

Gerard Pique v Javier Hernandez

Despite being a former united player, Hernandez is a player that Pique will not be familiar with. Scoring 20 goals in his first season at the club, The Mexican has made a huge impact since joining the side in the summer. An uncanny reliability when in-front of goal has been invaluable for United this term, scoring vital goals, at vital times in the premier league this season. Winning goals away at Everton and Stoke has propelled the striker into a permanent position in the Red Devils Line-up this year. But can Hernandez be the difference at Wembley? Potentially yes. Despite boasting such an excellent defence, Barca’s back four is the weak point in the side if there was one, and given the opportunity to hit the back of the net considering the form he has been in this season you wouldn’t  bet against him to take it.

Andreas Iniesta v Michael Carrick  

Iniesta was the key man in Barca’s 2009 champion’s league final victory over United, and this year it will be up to Carrick to keep tabs on the Spaniard who pulls the strings in the middle of the park for Barcelona.  With Barca likely to dominate possession at Wembley, it will be Carrick’s job to attempt to intercept the play between Iniesta and Messi, which considering the talent of both players is no easy task.  Can the influential Iniesta be the star man once again and lead Barca to another final victory over Manchester United? Quite possibly. Make no mistake, Barcelona have not become the team they are from being one dimensional, and it is likely Iniesta and the rest of the midfield will change positions throughout the evening, therefore making it more difficult for United to track the key man, good luck Carrick….

Wayne Rooney v Sergio Busquets

Most definitely, Rooney is united’s key player, and if he plays at the top of his game he is good enough to be the difference between the two sides on Saturday.  But Barca’s unsung hero busquets has proven himself on the biggest stage being an integral member of Spain’s world cup winning squad, and is widely known as one of if not the best defensive midfielder on the planet. Instructions to man mark Rooney are likely to come flying his way from Pep Guardiola , with the Barcelona manager already previously highlighting Rooney as one of Manchester United’s main threats.  But who will come out on top? Head says Busquets , Heart says Rooney.

Lionel Messi v Rio Ferdinand & Nemanja Vidic

With the Argentinian maestro expected to play down the middle, the onus is likely to be on Ferdinand & Vidic to contain Messi on Saturday evening. The truth is, if Messi is in the mood, there really is not a lot United can do to stop him. Many teams have tried different approaches to defending against the Argentinian, from trying to kick him off the pitch, to man marking and rarely has any tactic come off.  Sir Alex Ferguson is likely to get his players to double up on Messi, which in turn is likely to create more room for another Barca player to play into. One thing is for sure the Manchester United defence will have to be on the top of their game, for the whole 90 minutes and potentially more, but that is not a requirement that is out of reach for United, who will know the task in hand and in Ferdinand & Vidic are two excellent players who will not make it easy for Messi.

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