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Champions League Final: Will It Be Messi Vs Nani Or Valencia?

May 27, 2011 By Keesh Sundaresan
Which player is more comparable to Messi's ability to create chances? Will it be Nani or Valencia?

The best there is in the world. Indeed he is. Lionel Messi is certainly a gem of his kind. The Argentinean has been in marvelous form of late and will definitely be the focus of tonight's Champions League final clash between Manchester United and Barcelona.

It's pretty easy to say that Lionel Messi has already engraved himself among the pantheon of greats in football's history and like all other legends, Messi is an individual that excites fans and causes mayhem in opposition defences to such an extent that most clubs collectively try to neutralize the threat posed by him.

Back in 2009, it was all about the Messi vs Ronaldo battle which the Barca talisman imminently won. This time around, the match will be a whole new dimension from their last meeting with the Red Devils performing well collectively as a team.

 

When it comes to comparing Messi with an individual in United's line-up, Nani and Valencia comes to our minds. Precisely because of how effective both of them have been in creating chances and goalscoring opportunities for United. However, only one of them is set to be given a starting spot on the right hand side. Who will it be?

Topping the assists charts in the Premier League, Nani has been an absolute revelation for United this season. Nani is a player that has so many times been regarded as a flop but the departure of Ronaldo allowed space for him to shine and after a few glimpses of his talent last season, he has exploded into the big stage in this campaign.

His abundance of trickery and pace has been a headache for opposition defences while his tendency to pop up with unexpected goals has increased his credentials. Undoubtedly, Nani and Berbatov were the real key to United's first half of the season when Rooney was struggling to find his feet while Valencia was out injured.

However, Antonio Valencia has been as influential as he has ever been for United in recent times since returning from his injury. What the Ecuadorian brings to the Devils is direct approach and pure effort. Valencia has proven to be the difference on so many occasions towards the end of the season and his energy level, and ability to move up and down the right flank suits the fact that United are expected to be on the back foot for most of the match against Barca tonight.

As much as we would love to focus on the defensive aspect of the game, never forget the fact that if you do not attack, you do not score. And if you do not score against Barcelona, then ultimately, you do not win against them.

Speaking about that, Nani definitely has a better attacking outlet in himself when compared to Valencia. Against a team of Barca's calibre, United need to place some emphasis on their attack as well. Because we all know how Barca can close down player quickly, suffocating the midfield with their holy trinity of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta. So, if there is a person who can trick the Catalans, it has to be Nani.

Furthermore, Valencia's right foot is too predictable and Guardiola will be aware that if they can stop his right foot, he can be silenced down that right hand side of defence. With Puyol being expected to start on the left tonight, it all makes sense considering how the Barca captain stopped Cristiano Ronaldo at Rome two years ago. Valencia will not be that difficult.

But frankly speaking, even selecting Nani to start could be detrimental to United's chances as well. With O'Shea not being the most effective of right backs and the Da Silva twins' tendency to get caught out of position, Valencia's tracking back will be needed. Nani's inconsistency also is a key factor but his attacking and offensive exploits earns him a good shout for that coveted spot on the right.

Per contra, Sir Alex Ferguson has this difficult choice to make ahead of tonight's masterpiece at Wembley. Who will you place your money on?
 


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