Sunday, May 24, 2009

Good Vs. Evil: Champions League Final Preview

And so it has come down to this.


How appropriate that the two best teams in Europe meet in Rome, home of the coliseum. The coliseum, as we know, hosted fights between gladiators, vicious and unyielding in nature. How appropriate that more than two thousand years later, we see a modern day version of the same: a fight to the (proverbial) death -- no draws, no second legs, no away goals. One team will walk out of Rome as champions of Europe. And that team will be legitimately be able to call itself the best -- there are no fluke champions this year, no wacky teams getting on a good run and carrying it through the knock-out rounds, no losers crashing the party of the big boys.

Futbol Club Barcelona. Manchester United Football Club. It's on, my friends. It's on.
_________________________________________________________________________________

There are two basic questions to ask about this final. The first question is: who should win? I mean that in the most normative way possible. In other words, if everything was right about the world, who would win? The second question to ask is: who will win? To answer the first, we have to think about what we want the world to look like. To answer the second, we have to think about the dynamics of the actual football likely to be on display in three days time.

There is no doubt that Barcelona, for all of our sake's, should win this year's Champions League. If ever there was a club that does things the right way, it is Barcelona. The club is owned by the fans, and subjects itself to regular elections. United, on the other hand, are owned by one Malcolm Glazer, who has helped saddle United with a debt of close to a billion dollars. Moreover, Glazer has followed the Asif Zardari model of leadership, by installing all six of his children on the board of directors for the club.



That's not all. Barcelona's team is constructed from the bottom up, the way football clubs are meant to be organized. Of Barca's best fifteen players, a full eight came through its youth ranks (Valdes, Puyol, Pique, Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets, Bojan and Messi), and some grew up mere minutes from the Camp Nou. Hell, Xavi used to ride the Barcelona metro to games when he first broke into the team.

By contrast, United's starting eleven is likely to feature a whopping one player (O'Shea) who can claim to have been part of United's youth set up -- this a far cry from the Becks/Nevilles/Giggs/Scholes decade.

But most importantly, it is right that Barcelona should win because they have Lionel Messi, and United have Cristiano Ronaldo. As it so happens, while the pair are perhaps the two best players in the world, they are miles apart in class and temperament. One preens, showboats, complains about and to teammates on the pitch, is selfish and petulant, dives, milks faux-injuries for all they are worth, and is generally a class-A asshole. The other is unassuming and humble, never has a bad word to say about anyone (in public), doesn't bitch about getting physically targeted (Ronaldo might have asked for an ambulance on the pitch if Van Bommel had elbowed his face twice in two games in the Champions League), plays with a smile on his face and a joie de vivre that is refreshing to see in a top-class athlete. United fans may counter and say: it doesn't matter what type of person you are, as long as you produce. My rejoinder would be: it might not matter what type of person you are, but what type of teammate you are certainly does matter. In this regard, it really is no contest.

And if ever one needed evidence of the good vs. evil dynamic between Barca and United, one need not look further than their shirts.

















Barcelona, who for more than a century had never allowed the logo of a corporate sponsor on the front of their jersey, signed a deal with Unicef as a sponsor. At the signing of the deal, Joan Laporta said: "For the first time in our more than 107 years of history, our main soccer team will wear an emblem on the front of its shirt. It will not be the brand name of a corporation. It will not be a commercial to promote some kind of business. It will be the logo of 'Unicef'. Through Unicef, we, the people of FC Barcelona, the people of 'Barça', are very proud to donate our shirt to the children of the world who are our present, but especially are our future." And unlike most sponsorship deals in which the club receives money from the sponsor, Barca turned the relationship on its head, and agreed to donate one and a half million Euros a year to the foundation.

United, on the other hand, have a slightly different type of sponsor. Instead of backing an organization that has as its mission statement the "realization of the rights of children and women, as laid down in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women", United proudly wear the logo of AIG on their shirts. AIG for its part played an enormous role in the current financial crisis of the world, and decided that the best way to pay penance for those mistakes was giving themselves bonuses in excess of $150 million. AIG is so popular that it is now choosing to call itself AIU Holdings, hoping everyone kinda-sorta just forgets.

I hope I have proven my case. Barcelona are Good. United are Evil.
_________________________________________________________________________________

That said, there remains one small problem. Like most things that are intrinsically evil (Dick Cheney, Satan), United are hugely competent. So competent, in fact, that it would be fair to call them the best team in Europe for the last three years. I am not just talking about the trophies they have racked up during that time. No, I base that observation on two points.

First, United's squad is exceptionally talented. Vidic and Ferdinand are quite easily the world's best center-back pairing (club or international football). Ronaldo is devastating in open-play, as well as in dead-ball situations (both initiating or finishing the set-piece). Wayne Rooney rivals Andres Iniesta for the "most roles played brilliantly and faithfully, without complaint" award: you can slot him anywhere in front of the back four (and really, you can probably play him at wing-back too) and he'll do the job for you. Patrice Evra may well be the world's best left-back in the world, as he claims. This team is absolutely and positively no joke.

The second point to make is this: United can beat you in many ways. They can play fast, and they can play slow. They can outscore you, or they can ensure you score less than them. They can play wide, and they can play narrow. They can play brilliant passing football, and they can play long-range over-the-top balls to their front three. They can score from open play, and they can score from dead ball situations. The reason for this is simple: United's squad goes 25 deep. Sir Alex Ferguson can mix and match and play horses for courses depending on which team he's playing, where he's playing them, in what competition, and at what stage. The level of talent at United's disposal is quite breathtaking, to be honest. They have no weaknesses.

Barcelona, on the other hand, do have weakness. The only thing worse than Barca's record in taking free-kicks and corners is being subjected to them. They don't have a Torres/Ibra type of target man, where they can just boof it up in the box and hope for the best. And with injuries (Marquez, Gabi Milito) and suspensions (Dani Alves, Abidal), their back four will be a completely manufactured entity, and could possibly feature three players playing out of position (Puyol at right back, Yaya Toure as a center back, and Keita at left back).

Here's the thing though: man for man, I will go to war with Barcelona's first eleven against United's first eleven any day, and twice on this Wednesday. Here's how I see the teams lining up this week:

-------------------------Van der Sar-----------------------

O'Shea--------------Rio------------Vidic-------------Evra

------------Park-------Anderson---Carrick-----------------

---Ronaldo------------------------------------Rooney------

-------------------------Berbatov-------------------------

Barce, meanwhile, will look like this (if Iniesta and Henry are fit in time, which they should be):

--------------------------Valdes-----------------------------

Puyol---------------Pique---------Yaya---------------Keita

---------------------------Busquets-------------------------

------------------------Xavi---Iniesta-----------------------

------Messi---------------Eto'o-------------------------Henry

United are probably going to play very similar to Chelsea in the semis (and United themselves in the semis last year): keep it tight in the back, don't be adventurous, look to exploit Barca on the counter, try to score from a set-piece, and otherwise play it safe and not give Barca any space. But here's the thing: as a Barca fan, United's midfield is simply not as physically imposing at Chelsea's was. I'd rather play against Park/Anderson/Carrick than Essien/Ballack/Lampard, if that's ok with you. Barca struggle against physical teams, but United are not a physical team on the defensive side of the pitch. This should allow Xavi and Iniesta to weave their magic, and that's where Barca's threats really emanate from.

I also expect Messi to be played as a false no. 9, similar to his role against Real a few weeks ago. In that game, Barca effectively made Eto'o a winger, and gave Messi more space to operate (and take advantage of his very underrated passing ability). All this talk about Evra stopping Messi last year is not only nonsense, but also besides the point: he may not even be matched up against him this year.

Though the back four will have an improvised look to it, I have no doubt Pep has been working on them in training. And if Pep lines the back four up the way we're all anticipating, it will at least give Barca a more physical and imposing back four to deal with set-pieces. The one weak link in the team might be Busquets who, let's face it, looked out of his depth against Chelsea. But I'm hoping that experience did him good, and that he's ready to step up.
_________________________________________________________________________________

United are an awesome team. I respect them enormously. They have been the best team in Europe for the last three years. I repeat: they have been the best team in Europe for the last three years.

But this is Barcelona's season. I have said it before, and I will say it again. This year, they are a team of destiny. It is simply meant to be. It is simply meant to be that Barcelona win the treble for the first time in Spanish football history. It is simply meant to be that Lionel Messi shines brightly on the biggest stage in world football. It is simply meant to be that Xavi and Iniesta continue to show the world that there's no finer midfield pairing in the world, whether they play for Spain or Barca. It is simply meant to be that Pep Guardiola, that favorite son of the city and the club, in his first season as manager after being a ball-boy, supporter, player, and captain of the team in the last two decades, conquers all before him. It is simply meant to be that in this season of dreams, in this season of magic and wizardry and one-touch one-pass football, that Barcelona, the club that is Mes Que Un Club -- more than a club -- summit the European mountain.

Receive, pass, offer. Receive, pass, offer. It is the Barcelona way, and this year, it is to be rewarded.

Prediction: Barcelona win 2-1.

UPDATE: Charming fellow, that Roy Keane. From Sid Lowe's piece on Pique:
Roy Keane, meanwhile, terrified him. On one occasion, Piqué's mobile started vibrating in the dressing room. Keane went ballistic, ripping clothes from their pegs, rummaging in pockets, screaming that he would kill the man responsible. Luckily, it rang off before Keane reached Piqué's trousers. A relieved man, he told friends he had never felt closer to death.
UPDATE II: Man, I love Xavi. He's so -- what's the word? -- earnest in his dismissiveness. Here he is on the Messi-Ronaldo debate, which he doesn't think is a debate at all.
It is the debate that will not go away in the build-up to the Champions League final but the Barcelona midfielder Xavi ­Hernández has refused to compare Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo because, he says, the Portuguese winger would come off so badly.

Xavi revealed that, as well as Ronaldo, he is a big admirer of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard but insisted that Messi is simply untouchable. "Messi is the best player in the world by a distance, he's the No1," Xavi said. "There is nobody at all like him. I don't want to compare him to anyone because it'll just damage the other player if I do. For me Messi is easily the best.

"All due respect to Ronaldo and all the other great players on the world stage but Messi is proving that he is better than ­everyone else. The world can see that he's the boss. I've never seen anything like it. In a game, in the training sessions, never. I wouldn't swap him for any player."

18 comments:

zeyd said...

Good write up, especially the Man U dissection. I get the feeling, however, that Berbadoll won't be starting and the team will be very similar to the one put out at Arsenal in the semis. Also, Rio didn't feature yesterday and hasn't, I believe, played in a couple of weeks. I don't think he's gonna make it.

Despite that, I've still gotta give Man U the edge, simply because of both teams defenses. Barca's back 4 is so fricking patched up that there's bound to be unfamiliarity over there. And yeah, Man U are very dangerous on the counter, even more so than Chelsea because of the pace that Ronaldo, Rooney, and even Evra have. Puyol and Keita, whilst strong and brave, aren't very quick. They could be exposed.

Tell me this: whilst Henry and Iniesta may make it in time, just how fit, and therefore how influential will they be?

AKS said...

"[Man U] have been the best team in Europe for the last three years."

What a load of stale horse manure. They've been lucky and efficient at best. Hardly the best team in England let alone Europe.

And don't even get me started on your bizarre proclamation that Vidic and Ferdinand are the best central defense pairing in the world.

I'd take Johan Djourou and Silvestre over those two light-weight chooths any day.

Coming back to your preamble, which is what I'd much rather talk about. I'd love to see some hand to hand combat. The teams have been too nice this year as has been the case with most crowds. (May have something to do with the Italian teams sucking big time this year?)

It's time for an on-field brawl. Ideal match up: Fergie v. Pep, hand to hand combat with one weapon of their choice. I reckon Pep would go for nunchucks and try putting in some crazy eastern tai chi feng shui moves. Fergie will opt for a simple but effective broken beer bottle and charge at Pep like a maniac. Expect Fergie to make Pep his little bitch in about 4 minutes. (Is that what's about to happen to Barcelona?)

P.S. I'd like Barca to obliterate Man U but have a bad feeling about this one.

Asfandyar said...

Seriously. I repeat, Seriously, just how UP your ass do you Barca fans have to be?

United are evil? This is where you absolute lack of historical knowledge about football comes into play. Sir Matt Busby's team was what Barca are now. You want to look at a team that's historically favoured players from the British Isles? That'd be Man Utd then. You want to talk about players from youth setups? I point you to the 99 "treble" winning team. Just because Spanish youngsters are technically more talented from the start doesn't mean English kids are the same. Read up a bit about the differences in how youngsters in both countries are blooded from a young age and then marvel at the stupidity of the UK. To an extent I'd even the same about our youth academy set up. Too much focus is given on building up strength early on rather than skill. We have this brilliant 16 year old called Magnus Wolff Eikrem - except he's built like a paper toothpick. Probably won't make it despite his considerable technical skill.

I do though immensely respect Barca for the UNICEF sponsorship and most of all for the fact that the club literally belongs to the fans. I wish United were the same - but when we went public we were always going to fucked later. That's the price you pay I suppose. I guess David Gill also forgot to look into his crystal ball re: AIG being scummy bastards.

Furthermore, do you really want me to link you AGAIN to the Messi spitting video? Honestly? The player who scored via a handball and then 'celebrated' as if he'd legitimately put the ball in the back of the net? Are you really rebranding Messi as Jesus/Moses/Muhammad/Mother Teresa? Ronaldo's a massive dickhead, but please, spare me the bullshit about Messi being God's very own angel.

Ronaldo also doesn't milk faux-injuries though. Rarely in fact. His preferred choice of chootiapana is whinging and general petulance. Just some semantics there.

Honestly. Just come out and say Barca are the better footballing team and that they deserve to win because they always play how THEY want to play - rather than suiting their general game to different occasions (i.e playing more defensively against some teams etc etc), rather than come out with some really tripe, half-assed shit about United being "evil."

You're trying too hard to make me fall out of love with you :@

Ali K. said...

heh.. Good v evil? Funny.

While Barca may parade in shirts with UNICEF surely anything wrong that Man U have done dosn't even compare to the disgrace that is Barcelonas link with Bunyodkor which even now is not fully clear cut. A club that did not exist 4 years ago, patronized by the butcher karimov. [ http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/mar/15/bunyodkor-uzbekistan-rivaldo-craig-murray ]

People commend Barca for their attacking play. I do too. But lets be honest, do they really know how to play any other way? Can the Barca back four even without injuries and suspensions be trusted to sit on a 1-0? Can they play direct football? Does Guardiola even have the tactical nous to stifle his opponents as chelsea did to them? Are they able to slice open teams who come only to play rough and park the bus? Nope. Barca, as much as I love to see them play sometimes are as one dimensional like Arsenal.

As far as Man United's youth ranks are concerned they are healthy. Man United have a policy of bringing in youth through the ranks the current squad is a testament to that fact. While Fletcher, Giggs, Scholes, Neville, Rafael, O Shea, Evans, Brown, Foster (thats 9 players) are a regular part of the squad kids like the Fabio, Gibson, Welbeck, Tosic, Kiko, Campbell , Ben Amos(watch out for this one) are just on their way.

Yes on occasions Man U has bought the final product just like Barcelona have. Lets not forget the likes of Ronado, Rooney, Anderson, Carrick, Evra were hardly the the world beaters they have developed into now when they were bought. I would also argue that the likes of Puyol and Valdes would not be in Barca if they were not youth products. Both are no where near competent for a club of Barcelonas stature. If there is any club in England that is to be accused of not developing youth its certainly not Manchester United.

While the Glazers sons are on the board and its rather meaningless given the glazers own the club. And let me remind you that Sir Bobby Charlton is also on the board while Bryan Robson is the club ambassador. The Glazers do not meddle in the affairs of the manager and support him in the summer. Thats pretty much all you can ask for. The rest is rather irrelevant. Man United are a private club whose books are not public. Most businesses are levered up in order to increase ROE. Its only after an extensive financial analysis with complete data would one be able to asses if the loans are feasible. The type of extensive analysis the bank that loaned the money conducted before they loaned it.

Btw United were offered more money from Mansion the gambling outfit for the shirt sponsorship but they chose AIG because they did not want to be associated with such a brand. Surely David Gill did not see AIG's complicity in the financial meltdown coming.

On team selection. I would be surprised if Berba Starts. I expect scholes/giggs to play in the center. Ronaldo up front with Rooney and Park on the wings.

Sylvinho will most probably start on the Left for Barca not Kieta. I also expect a double pivot (kieta , Busquets) and no Henry even if fit.

Ahsan said...

Zeyd:

Iniesta has a history of being good to go as soon as he comes back. Henry's more of a question mark, but I think he understand this is his last best chance to win a CL. He'll be up for it.

AKS:

Thank for your typical bout or Arsenal-induced irrationality.

By the way, Pep would kick Fergie's ass.

Asfand:

Hahahah calm down bhai. The first half of the post was completely tongue-in-cheek. I'm just messing with you guys. Sports is not serious enough to be talking about "good" and "evil". I thought this would be clear from my tone.

But you have to admit, the AIG vs Unicef thing is quite sweet as a side-by-side, no?

Ali K:

In response to the first 2/3rds of your comment, see my response to Asfand above re: calm down, it's just a joke.

I can't see Ronaldo being deployed up front alone, but we shall see. Scholes would be an utter disaster I think. Giggs might start, yes.

I would LOVE for Sylvinho to start. Pep has shown an alarming lack of confidence in him and Caceres (in the case of the latter, some would say justifiably). But if Keita starts in the midfield, Busquets won't. And I promise you, if Henry is fit, he's playing. There's just no doubt about that.

Asfandyar said...

Ahsan: That's what I thought after writing my comment you bastard. Good wind-up though! Completely played on my frayed nerves :@

The AIG v Unicef thing IS brilliant though. I love that about Barca - that they're really not motivated by any pressing financial concerns. I guess it helps having the best youth academy in the world though.

And I agree with your comment to Ali K about Scholes' starting being a disaster. He's been distinctly average (if not poor) this season save for a few games, but Giggs of late has been rather tasty. He also offers us a great, calm head when it comes to counter attacks. But, he won't harry, and for that reason we might see Park in midfield. He won't be a stranger to it seeing as how he played there primarily for PSV as well.

Henry will play too. I just know it.

lala pathan said...

haha ahsan 1 u shud be writing for " The Sun" or "guardion "...those english quacks would luv to hate you , i have no comment to make as you hav said all there is to say...for me i am sure you know how much i luv barca and this final is even better because i hate utd to the core ...glory my ass..more like lucky bastards . if it wasn't for tevez scoring cruitial goals right at the end they wouldn't hav won the E.P.L
@A.K.S....Shot brother! i am proud of people like you...it would just be a cherry on top of a cake if henry and messi both score against the fallen ones :) viva barca

Ahsan said...

Asfand:

Just to be clear, is the decision in your mind Giggs vs. Park or Giggs vs. Berbatov? Not clear from your comment. I would have thought that if Giggs plays, it will be in place of Berbatov, with Ronaldo up front alone and Rooney and Giggs trying to link up the midfield (Park/Anderson/Carrick) with those two. Am I correct?

Lala Pathan:

I actually REALLY like the Guardian. Yes, they're an English paper, but they're very very fair, as our their readers (most of the time, anyway). And Sid Lowe is awesome.

Asfandyar said...

Ahsan:

Giggs v Park.

But it's confusing. Fergie might start with Ronaldo up top and Rooney/Park on the wings. That'd mean Giggs in the middle. Except, with Rooney and Park tracking back a lot, we'll essentially see Giggs playing as a support striker for Ronaldo. That'd be the best way to make use of Giggs because he's fairly calm on the ball and can pick out a good pass.

But, if Fergie decides to NOT have Rooney and Park trail a lot (which he might seeing as how there's no Alves or Abidal), then I think he won't go for Giggs. Then, he might throw in either Berbatov or Tevez with regards to the front three. Here it depends on how much faith Fergie has in our ball retention skills. Frankly, we aren't going to see the majority of the possession, so it doesn't make sense to employ players who are best with the ball at their feet and can't do much chasing/tackling. If Fergie's thinking the same, we'll see Park in midfield and Tevez on the wing/up-top.

Man, that's what I love about this United side/squad. We don't really have a first XI. Which in a way is bad, but on the other hand it means we can send out specific teams to deal with specific teams and threats.


lala pathan:

This is for you:

http://www.scienceblogs.de/frischer-wind/picard-facepalm.jpg

Ahsan said...

By the way, on the Barca side, I would really like Bojan to start in place of Eto'o, who's been in absolute shiite form for the lastfive or six weeks. There's a snowball's chance in hell of that happening, but it's what I would like to see. I would also like to see Sylvinho at LB so that Keita can play in place of Busquets. But the lineups I put out were what I expect to see, not what I want to see.

Sputnik said...

I can't believe that you've gotten me this excited about football. I'm losing my American heritage by the day.

Monis Iqbal said...

O boy, great great post. That was exactly the kind of build up I needed as a Barca (and a bit ManU) fan.

Ahsan said...

Sputnik:

Since you're smart, you're not really American anyway.

Monis:

Please choose a side.

lala pathan said...

@asfandyar.hahahahha, v hav somethn in comon cause dats how i feel abt utd fans :)viva barca, i just hope ronaldo don't walk out throwing his hands in air , crying, wheeping, cursing,of the field..oops i m sorry i meant rooney ..wrong again dats what reo does..cheez there r so many cry babies in dat team its hard to keep a count :) glory my ass ! :p

Razz said...

You went a little JAZBAATI with that Good vs. Evil thing. I despise ManUre as much as anybody else, but that was a bit too much tbh :)!

Nevertheless, Barca are to be commended on running a football club in an impeccable way and their displaying unicef's logo on their shirts. Being a toon fan, this season has been heartbreaking for me, especially when I think of the days we were playing in the CL and stuffed Barca 3-2 at St.James' thanks to a certain Tino Asprilla. Those days seem ages ago now. Come Wednesday night, I'll be rooting for Barca though ... I hope they stuff the scum of Manchester. Go Barca!

karachi khatmal said...

i disagree - sports is the only place where good and evil can exist.

as a real fan, i am not going to go forth and play up this barca=good stuff, even though let's remind our matt busby comparing friend that the barca team also represented a people being subjected to a fascist overlord and hence can never be brought down to the man u level.

but let me enjoy this opportunity to spew bile at Man U. sorry asfand, but i have enough man u jerk offs in my office to hate on your team with impunity.

to start with, man u AND man u fans are typified by rooney. remember the "blue for life" banyaan rooney wore? a bunch of opportunistic whores, thats who they all are.

any pakistani who remembers 1999 with fondness should be shot. 1999 was the bittersweet year of that fabulous world cup and the final that ripped out our testicles and stripped me of my childhood innocence. bloody treble nostalgia is sacrilege.

and for all those who go on about "yes barca can attack, but man u can play every style" are people who like watching different styles of pornos to jack off to, and can not fathom the idea of making love to the woman/man/person of your dreams and heart every night. to them, the latter translates into same old shit. to me, the former translates into loser muthal. a man u fan will have all these simulated images and memories to jack off to, a lover of football will experience the indelible ecstasy of bliss.

*whew* rant over

sorry one last thing. ideally, it would be an open game 2-2. then man u will unfairly be given a red card, will have a legit goal disallowed for a wrong offside call, ronaldo will be denied a clear penalty due to his history of histrionics, and then messi, ineffective all game, would score a wonder goal deep in injury time which would be so good the rapture would arrive.

muhahahahahahaa

Asfandyar said...

kk:

Fair enough on the glory-whore Man Utd supporters. I've dealt with enough of these fairweather types giving the saner fans a bad name. During our '3 year' barren spell, I rarely remember seeing any United fans around. Now? They're everywhere. But, let's be honest here, every club tends to have these sort of fans. Chelsea, anyone?

Also, I really don't get the porno/muthal analogy. hahahhaha. It sounds brilliant, but I wish I could understand it.

R Malik said...

Hey Ahsan great write up and kudos to the varied and passionate commentators for their ummm, varied and passionate responses.

Yeah.

So onto the match itself. Because honestly theres all this talk of good vs evil, 1999, masturbation, Unicef, Nazis, Bin fuckin Laden, more masturbation, Islam Karimov, testicles, Ryan Giggs's testicles, oh no wait, that last one is a novel I'm currently working on, scrub that one out. BUT YOU ALL GET THE PICTURE. And its a great one too. Think Michaelangelo meets Tracey Emin and Jenna Jameson's back catalogue on the sistine chapel with Garrincha's (supposedly) 11 inch phallus.

Now then, how about this picture, which nobody has mentioned so far! Athens, Greece, 1994. AC Milan vs Barcelona.

Ye verily.

Arguably Dejan Savicevic's (and maybe Capello's) finest hour in club football. What a little Montenegrin magician he was. Small, left footed, skillful, quick; 'il genio' (the genius). Remind you of anyone?
Milan play in all white, Barca in their normal kit.
Both teams have just won their leagues (not 100% sure in case of Milan here, maybe someone can clarify).
Milan have two key defenders in Baresi (what a legend) and Costacurta (another ledge) SUSPENDED. (Alves and Abidal anyone? Although Abidal isn't fit to clean Baresi or Costacurta's boots IMHO). (Alves compensates with his Cafu-esque attacking ability).
So I hope you can see where I'm trying to go with this, because I don't.
Oh wait, one more thing, that Barca team was the Cruyff 'Dream team' and I think its fair to say they went into the match as favourites and well look what happened.

Now, being a supporter of the might that is known as Blackburn Rovers FC, (to those who aren't aware, being a supporter of said team is basically a punditry license) I am going to place my bets on a Barcelona victory centred around one Lionel Andres Messi. 2-1 Barca.

Wiki entry for 94 final: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1994_UEFA_Champions_League_Final

Heres the link for the classic final of 94 (Capello's stone face always cracks me up):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqcIA9rTylk

ENCANTADO!