Rooney! Messi! Chicharito! It all comes down to this. The two best teams in the world, English Premier League champions Manchester United and La Liga champions FC Barcelona, take to the field at Wembley on Saturday, for the most prestigious title in soccer. In order to keep the drool from hitting the floor in a sloppy puddle of fan adoration and excitement, let’s move through this quickly.
Barcelona is all about Messi. The team is fantastic (if a little too prone to diving, which caused me to turn off several of their games this season in a fit of angry cursing), but Messi’s form has never been better. His threats on goal are nothing compared to his ability to create beautiful plays, slicing through impossible passes and dribbling around opponents with ease.
Needless to say (but I’m going to anyway), ManU needs a solution for the Messi problem, and that lies squarely on the broad shoulders of defenders Vidic and Ferdinand. Luckily, they are more than up to the task. If they can contain the “skinny runt” – and the refs stand strong against diving – Manchester United will take the game.
ManU has been peaking, whereas Barca has looked weak in recent games. (Sorry to say, but when you rely on blatant dives to win a game, you look pathetic and the win is meaningless.) Home-court advantage certainly helps. Meanwhile, Barca defender Pique is distracted by his romance with superstar siren Shakira, who will hopefully be shaking her hips – er, cheering supportively – from the sidelines. With his focus shifted to the mamasita in the audience, Rooney and Chicarito can sneak through the defense and light up goalkeeper Valdes (who, let’s face it, is no Iker Casillas).
On the other end, Edwin van der Sar will not let his final game, his swan song, end with a loss to some Spanish divers. And ManU’s Ryan Giggs certain someone will be looking to reclaim some of his reputation, after proving to be a petulant adulterer in the recent superinjuction scandal. BTW, G-man, I am totally returning your yoga video.
Pregame coverage begins at 2pm ET on FOX, and features team breakdowns from Landon Donovan, USA’s all-time leader in World Cup games played and goals scored, Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel, and Michael Strahan, the wonderful gap-toothed former football player who is also apparently a huge futbol fan.