Two great teams, one great night … it has to be the Champions League final!

At 7.45pm on Saturday, two of the greatest football clubs in history will kick off the Champions’ League final at the most famous football stadium in the world – Wembley.

Barcelona and Manchester United are reigning Champions of their domestic leagues and both have mutual admiration and respect for one another. Both sides will see this game as their most challenging game of the season, with the prestige of beings Europe’s finest on the line in a tournament that has become the biggest football spectacle in the world.

For the neutral in England, this could be one of the greatest football games ever to be played. But really there are two English sides playing at Wembley, with Barcelona’s roots having an English passport.

It was a band of nomadic Brits who formed the Spanish giants way back in 1899, and today even their badge bears St George’s Cross. In November 1899 the Brits responded to an advert in Barcelona newspaper Los Deportes. 

Part of it read: “Our friend and companion Hans Gamper, former Swiss (football) champion, being keen on organising some football games in the city asks anyone who feels enthusiastic enough to present themselves at the office of this newspaper any Tuesday or Friday between nine and 11pm.” Three Englishmen were among those who answered the advert – Walter Wild and brothers John and William Parsons. They were joined by countrymen Arthur and Ernest Witty.

Wild was then named the first president of the newly formed “Football Club Barcelona”.

And of course the links don’t end there. Our very own Terry ‘El Tel’ Venables managed the Catalans, they went from strength to strength under his stewardship from 1984, including winning their first league title for 11 years.

Don’t forget the Brits that played under him, Steve Archibald, Mark Hughes and most famously Gary Lineker. El Tel paid almost £3million for the England goal-poacher, an absolute fortune for a player in the Eighties. So for those neutrals it’s proving a tough choice on who they want to see come out on top.

In my office alone the neutral workers are divided on who they will be supporting on Saturday. Currently it’s 50/50, with City, Liverpool and Chelsea fans choosing the stripes of Barcelona, Arsenal fans are divided even more, some plumping for United just because they want Messi to be brought down a peg or two, and some who just can’t face cheering on the Mancs. The rest are torn between actual nationality support and generally having a huge hatred for United, Giggs, the board, and those stupid yellow and green scarves everyone sees to wear.

There are many similarities between these two heavy-weight’s. Barcelona are seen in Spain as the peoples club. They have a very admirable policy on player recruitment and put their faith in their own youth academy and the development of young Spanish talent. Manchester United are the same. They are not widespread big spenders like Chelsea and they prefer to develop talent from within and keep the traditions of the club inherent. Both clubs play attractive brands of attacking football, so it is no wonder people are torn over who to support.

For me I’m plumping for United and showcasing Premiership football. As I discussed in a previous blog, this season has been one of the best I’ve ever seen, packed full of quality players and managers, and it compared favourably to the Spanish league which is basically a monopoly between Real Madrid and Barcelona. And despite what most people think, I reckon United have a real chance of winning. 

Obviously they know Wembley and are used to playing there. The weather conditions will be on their side (bound to be raining) and Barcelona may just think they can turn up, pass the ball to Messi and the trophy is theirs. Fergie is not stupid and will have his tactics down to a tee. The United players, for once going into a game as underdogs, will be massively up for it and will be playing very tight closing them down. I honestly think they’ll do it. I’m plumping for 2-1.

Watch out tomorrow for a betting special from Betto and get your bets on with our partner Blue Square to see if you can win some money for your Bank Holiday weekend.

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  1. Craig Man U says:

    Gutted we didnt do them, bad lineup from fergie, Carrick was about as useful as a cock-flavoured lolly pop

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