Champions League finals preview

Jeff Walls

Leo Messi scores for Barcelona against Manchester United

Manchester United and Barcelona in the Champions League final is an undeniable early summer combo. It doesn't score high on the subtlety charts but it's an almost guaranteed good time. In soccer, two great teams going head to head can sometimes end up as a turgid, petty dive-fest punctuated by maybe one or two moments of randomness that decide the outcome (see: last year's Champions League final, the World Cup Final), but based on the fluid, athletic styles of these two teams it's likely that this game will actually be interesting.

For those unfamiliar: the Champions League is a tournament that's played between the top teams from every country with a major soccer league in Europe. The first round of 32 teams starts in the fall and then it gets whittled down to two by season's end. Since there is a huge and growing gap between the haves and have-nots in soccer, the Champions League is the most important proving ground for the juggernaut super-clubs that routinely run circles around their opponents in their domestic leagues. Having a match-up between these two teams is exactly how this tournament is supposed to go down. They are both undefeated throughout the tournament so far, have won their respected domestic titles, and are generally agreed upon to be the two best clubs in Europe. Both clubs won their first European cups at Wembley, and they have identical records from the 11 times they've faced each other. This is the best that soccer has to offer.

Barcelona is heavily favored because they are a God damn dream team. Leo Messi, easily the best player of his generation, is always fun to watch. He doesn't really look or act like the world's best player: He's floppy-haired, short, and loves Oasis, but he makes everyone else look like they're in slow motion. Barcelona also has an insane midfield, world class goalkeeper, and a defender who looks exactly like the waiter from Ghost World. Manchester United is more of a defensive-minded side but there is really no defending against Barcelona's relentless passing onslaught, so expect them to go forward often. Man U has the advantage of playing in England on a field that some players have a lot of experience on, so they sort of have a home field advantage.

Figuring out who's going to win this thing isn't really the point, though. The point is to get a nice day-drunk going on with some friends and watch the best soccer game of the year. Soak it up, futbol fans, because after this it's just transfer rumors and trying to care about the MLS (again) for the next few months.

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