Manchester United play Barcelona this Saturday night in the 2011 Champions League Final live from Wembley Stadium in London, England. Practically the whole world of soccer fans will be watching this match. Some will support Barcelona. Some may support Manchester United. But there will be plenty of neutrals. It’s those neutrals (myself included) who I’d like to address in this article to give seven reasons why I believe we should support Manchester United on Saturday night.
Here are the top seven reasons why we should cheer Manchester United in the hopes of winning the Champions League Trophy:
1. Man United are not a team of divers.
Barcelona’s antics in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid were disgraceful. Particularly guilty were Sergio Busquets, Pedro and Dani Alves. I hate divers and I dislike players who try to fool referees by committing simulation. Manchester United, on the other hand, play a fair game and rarely cheat. This is one reason why we should cheer for Manchester United on Saturday.
2. Man United are representing England.
Whether you like it or not, Manchester United are representing England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom in this game. As a British citizen (but not a Manchester United supporter), I’ll be rooting for United so they can beat Spain, Catalonia and Barcelona in one swoop. I realize it’ll be difficult for some supporters of rival clubs to cheer for United, but this is the one time out of the year where United deserve the support so an English team can lift the trophy. In previous Champions League Finals (and European Cups), I’ve cheered for Liverpool, Arsenal, Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa, Manchester United, Chelsea and other British teams. Now is the time to back Man United. Just for one day.
3. Man United play a more pleasing brand of football that we’re more accustomed to watching.
There’s no denying that Barcelona have players who have better skill than Manchester United. But what United has over Barcelona is a brand of football that we enjoy watching every week in the Premier League. The speed, tenacity, unpredictability and variety of attacking styles. The blistering pace that completely opens teams up. And the way that Premier League teams push forward and rarely commit back passes. With Barcelona on the other hand, you have a team who — at times — will walk around the pitch and pass the ball back and forth in their own half, and then slowly put you to sleep with their tiki-taka brand of football. That slow pace where Barcelona keeps a vast majority of the possession and then delivers a critical through-ball to one of its forwards is effective at times. But it’s very frustrating to watch. I want to see two teams battle it out and play more of a ping-pong style of soccer where there’s more action and more excitement, something which Manchester United is very capable of doing.
4. Manchester United are the underdog.
This is probably the only opposition in the world where Manchester United are rated as the underdog. The vast majority of pundits will expect Barcelona to win, which puts Manchester United in the enviable position of being the people’s underdog. Most of us love underdogs. The difference with Man United is that they’re a very powerful underdog who has a decent chance of winning this game.
5. Barcelona are not the be-all and end-all of football.
Barcelona are considered the world’s best team. Rightly so based on having the best crop of players in the world, namely Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and David Villa. But they are not the be-all and end-all of football. There are other teams in this world who deserve a chance to knock Barcelona off their perch. There are teams who have different ideas of playing football. And, at the end of the day, Barcelona are beatable. It would take an incredible performance to beat the Spanish side, but if Manchester United accomplishes that and wins the Champions League Final, it has the opportunity to be considered not only the best team in Europe but also the best team in the world (forget about the FIFA Club World Cup tournament, which is a joke).
6. Man United represents the Premier League.
Most of us watch one or more Premier League games on a weekly basis. I enjoy watching La Liga games, but I have to admit that La Liga is getting more boring for me each season with Barcelona and Real Madrid solidifying their positions in first and second spot. While the Premier League has its own monopolies, at least they’re more varied with more teams capable of winning the title such as Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and now Manchester City. Whether you support Manchester United or not, I think most of you agree that we’d rather see a Premier League than a La Liga side lifting the Champions League trophy.
7. Barcelona are the rich kid you always want to beat.
Last, but not least, Barcelona embodies the rich kid on the playing ground who has everything he wants and needs, and shows off in front of his less fortunate friends. It’s the kid that most people want to see slip up, to fall or make a mistake. There’s a sense of hoping that the kid comes back down to earth and is like the rest of us. Manchester United has a chance to be that team that beats the kid. Whether or not they can do it, we’ll have to wait and see until Saturday night.
Wherever you are in the world this Saturday, be sure to join EPL Talk for the Champions League Final Live Blog.