Whichever way the 2011 UEFA Champions League final goes, both of these teams will be remembered as dynasties.
Manchester United are playing their third Champions League final in four years, an astonishing testament to consistency and excellence in a competition more often ruled by luck and fate. Domestically, United wrapped up a record 19th first division title this week, eclipsing the long-held record of rivals Liverpool. Since the Premier League’s inception in 1992, Manchester United have won 12 titles; the Red Devils have won more EPL titles than all the other teams combined. Ryan Giggs has more EPL medals than the majority of English clubs have in their entire history.
It’s an astonishing and unprecedented level of dominance which shows no sign of letting up under Sir Alex Ferguson. But still Man Utd still enters the final slightly less fancied than Barcelona, who won 2-0 when the teams met in the 2009 final in Rome.
Besides that Champions League win, the crowning achievement of a flabbergasting six trophies picked up in Pep Guardiola’s inaugural campaign as a head coach, Barcelona has yet to NOT win a La Liga season under Guardiola. Additionally, those three consecutive domestic titles came at a time when Real Madrid assembled the most expensive team in football history. Johan Cruyff took twice as long as Guardiola to win 11 medals, only two more than Guardiola has already, and Cruyff’s side was dubbed the Dream Team. What, then, are we witnessing now?
But Guardiola, prematurely graying and with a faulty back, knows that he will not last in management as long as the immortal Ferguson has. The time to stake out history and further the dynasty is right now, in this game, as opposed to Arsene Wenger’s and Liverpool’s perpetual promises of Next Year.
Revenge, history, dynasties, and two damn fine football teams: This match easily promises to be one of the greats, one of the few that fall under the list of essential viewing for any and all football fans.
Zac Lee Rigg will live blog throughout the match. Make sure to sign up below for a reminder 24 hours before the game, and join along for insight and color during the game.