Man United v Barcelona, Sat 28th May, 19.45, ITV 1
So we get to the main event. Barcelona against Manchester United is the biggest club game of them all. Sometimes the Champions League throws up some unusual finalists, like when Jose Mourinho won his first with Porto in a final against Monaco. But this game is between without doubt the two best teams in the world.
The English champions taking on the Spanish champions, who go in to this game 21/20 to win (Betfred) because they are resounding favourites. By comparison United are 14/5 in 90 minutes with Paddy Power to win their fourth European Cup.
With the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Iniesta at the top of their game it is no wonder that Pep Guardiola’s team are the favourites going into this game at Wembley. So it all comes down to how United can stop them, and to tell you the truth they look more compact and able to do it than they did in 2009 when they lost out to Barca in Rome.
Ji Sung Park and Antonio Valencia are the key players for me because they will offer width, deliverey, counter attack ability, but more importantly defensive cover.
Iniesta has talked about United’s workrate this week and Sir Alex Ferguson’s team are going to have work harder than they have ever done before to close the space down for the Barca maestros to work in. But Park will lead the way with this. He consistently covers more ground than any other United player and breaks up play before helping launching attacks. It is then about United taking their chances.
In the 2009 final Park had a brilliant opportunity to score in the opening 10 minutes, but a covering tackle from Gerard Pique stopped him in his tracks and Samuel Eto’o then went on to open the scoring and the rest is history. That means Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez in particular are going to have to make sure they put the ball in the net when the opportunity arrives.
Of course Barca are favourites to win, but in 90 minutes United have a great hance of causing what would be an upset against what is considered to be the best club side ever by some pundits.
So for me I have a hunch the game is going to finish 1-1 in normal time which is 6/1 at Ladbrokes and might offer you a bit of value.
Another scoreline that I like though is 2-1 United if they really battle hard and that comes in at 14/1 (Skybet) which could be the best of the lot. As for Barca, if United blow-up and never get going then 2-0 to the Spaniards is 8/1 with Boylesports which was the scoreline in Rome in 2009.
Stevenage v Torquay, Lg 2 POF, Sat 28th May, 15.00, Skysports 1
Taking a step back the League Two playoff kicks off the weekend with a game between Stevenage and Torquay at Old Trafford.
Having spent so long at the bottom of the league this is a huge game for Torquay. Stevenage produced an amazing late run to make the play-offs but it is Torquay who I fancy to win this one at 7/4 with Coral. Have a look at a 2-0 winning scoreline of 12/1 (Stan James).
Huddersfield v Peterborough, Lg 1 POF, Sun 29th May, 15.00, Skysports 1
The League One game is Huddersfield against Peterborough. The unusual thing of course is that the Peterborough boss is of course Darren Ferguson who will be playing at his dad’s gorund. But Lee Clark has proved formidable this season as Town manager and they have deserved to make it to this point as they were in with such a great shout of automatic promotion.
Their form will tell in this game and so I fancy Huddersfield Town to make it into the Championship, they are 8/5 in 90 minutes (Blue Square). A great bet is Peterborough to be winning at half-time and then Huddersfield to fight back and win the game which comes in at 28/1 with . Take a plunge.
Reading v Swansea, Mon 30th May, 15.00, Skysports 1
Historically it is the richest game in world football. In the past it has been considered to be worth as much as £60m to the winners. That is the case for both Swansea and Reading who face each other on Monday in the Championship play-off.
It will be odd for Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers who of course was sacked as Reading boss. Both sides play quality football and a passing game which should be admired. But for me it is the Welsh side who have most of the match winners in their side, they are 17/10 with William Hill. Scott Sinclair has had a brilliant season and for me could be picked up by other Premier League clubs this summer.
And Chelsea striker Borini has been a great loan move. I fancy both sides to score in this game (10/11, Coral) but I have a feeling Swansea will run out winners in the end and a 3-1 victory could be on the cards which comes in at a princely 25/1 (Boylesports). Worth a shot.