Reuters Soccer Blog
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The new Angels and Demons movie is based in Rome so it got us thinking who might end up being an angel or a demon after Wednesday’s Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona.
Will one of the goalkeepers drop a clanger or will Cristiano Ronaldo belt one in again from 40 metres? It’s a big pitch at the Stadio Olimpico, but I can see Lionel Messi running the length of it with the ball at his feet…
Manchester United’s Red Devils will be wearing angelic white in Wednesday’s Champions League final, just how Alex Ferguson likes it.
Barcelona are the nominal home team for the ‘dream final’ in Rome and as their famous claret and blue tops clash with United’s usual red and their first choice blue away kit, the holders will wander onto the pristine Stadio Olimpico pitch in white.
The Champions League final is almost upon us and the views of the Roman locals are quite interesting.
As Paul Virgo explains above, AS Roma fans are rooting for Barcelona while Lazio supporters want Manchester United to win.
Major finals featuring the best teams and the best players, the ones we talk up in advance as being for the connoisseur, often turn out to be the most disappointing, don’t they? Maybe it’s stage fright, too much respect for the opposition or the stakes being just too high, but great teams often seem to save their worst football for finals.
There are exceptions, of course. The 2005 Champions League final between AC Milan and Liverpool produced exquisite football in the first half from the Italians, and drama that will live long in the minds of anyone who watched it as Liverpool came back.
When you consider the importance Barcelona attaches to its Catalan identity, and the number of great local players the club has produced, it seems strange that Catalan coaches, or at least first team coaches, have had so little influence.
There have been a few, from Roma Forns back in 1927 through Josep Samitier, the great former player, and more recently the likes of Llorenc Serra Ferrer (actually Mallorquin) and Charly Rexach.
from Left field:
There were nervous moments for Barcelona in the first half of the King's Cup final but a three-goal nine-minute burst from Lionel Messi, Bojan Krkic and Xavi helped them to a 4-1 win over Athletic Bilbao and the first leg of a possible treble.
The league title could be their this weekend, on Saturday if Real Madrid fail to win at Villarreal or failing that on Sunday if they can manage a point at Real Mallorca.
UEFA are rarely willing to overturn refereeing decisions and so it proved on Monday, with the Control and Disciplinary body rejecting appeals from Manchester United and Barcelona over Darren Fletcher, Eric Abidal and Daniel Alves:
UEFA, announcing the decision on Monday, said in a statement that the two clubs had failed to get their appeals in on time, but even if they had made the deadline they would have been rejected.
Nerves are totally understandable at the end of the season with so much at stake.
Even seasoned campaigners get afflicted by the jitter bug, with Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan losing the lead twice in a 2-2 draw at Chievo on Sunday with a fourth straight scudetto almost theirs.
Maybe Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo was wrong on all the big decisions in Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg — it absolutely does not justify Chelsea’s reaction.
UEFA’s “Respect” campaign was, again, left in tatters as pandemonium erupted after Andres Iniesta’s late equaliser sent Barcelona through on the away goals rule.
Barcelona snatched a place in the Champions League final, and left Chelsea players furious, when a last-gasp goal from Andres Iniesta earned them a 1-1 draw in their semi-final second leg and victory on away goals.
Barcelona will play holders Manchester United in the Rome final on May 27 after a stunning reversal of fortunes in the semi-final second leg.