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Barcelona vs. Manchester United Betting Odds: Champions League Picks

Real Madrid vs Barcelona Champions League 2011 Betting Picks + Odds

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UEFA Champions League Final Matchup: Barcelona vs. Manchester United
Date/Time: Saturday, May 28, 2:45 PM ET
Venue: Wembley Stadium in London, England
Broadcast: FOX
Spread: Manchester United (Pick +165), Barcelona (Pick -125)
Money Line: Manchester United -275, Barcelona EVEN, Draw +250
Over/Under: 2 ½

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Can this season’s Barcelona squad stake its claim as possibly the greatest football team ever?

They will certainly have their chance when they kick off against this year’s English Premier League’s title holders Manchester United at London’s Wembley Stadium in Saturday’s UEFA Champions League Final.

A victory by the Catalans-who locked up their third consecutive Spanish title- would give them their third European title in six years. It would punctuate the team’s case that the current squad, along with the world’s best player, Lionel Messi, and seven members of Spain’s World Cup winning squad, might just be better than any other team to ever put their boots on an international pitch.

But while Barca defeated United 2-0 in the final in Rome just two seasons ago, the Londoners have put together a solid side, featuring the likes of Wayne Rooney, Premier League’s top scorer Dimitar Berbatov, Nani, and Nemanja Vidic. On the other hand, Barcelona has done nothing but remain unstoppable.

So what is the game plan for the Red Devils? BetOnline

Some might think the best way to play Barca is at its own game. Pressing them back into their own end while deploying a high defensive backline, much the way Arsenal did in their 2-1 win of the Champions League quarterfinals. However, this could be a risky plan and the slightest mistake could leave the United’s defense vulnerable to Barcelona’s superb long-range passing.

Others might engage in a safer strategy, sitting back with a solid defensive effort and hope to score on the counter attack. To me this sounds like a better approach as it could smother the elaborate passing of Messi and midfielders Xavi and Andres Iniesta. This is the same tactic that Real Madrid used in its 1-0 victory over Barca in the Copa del Rey final back in April.

But that method is far from perfect, as the Catalans’ forwards David Villa and Pedro are well versed and posses the ability to exploit the inside and seem to always find the open space.

Barca’s fullbacks, especially Dani Alves, who has more assists than any other European defender, are also good at getting into to the mix as well on attacking runs, helping to outnumber any stacked defense.

There is however, one place where United has the advantage. Set pieces. Seven Barcelona players are 5’-10”, which means the Red Devils can out jump their opponents on crosses and corners. Manchester’s Vidic is a lofty threat in the air; and should look to capitalize on that advantage.

As good as Barcelona may be, Manchester United will make a game of it.

Matt’s Free Prediction: Barcelona 2, Manchester United 1.

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Matt Martz is a sportswriter for the Bakersfield Californian located in Central California. “Football (soccer) is a game in which a handful of fit men run around for one and a half hours watched by millions of people who could really use the exercise.”

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