March 19th, 2010
01:54 PM ET

United will win the Champions League ... I feel it in my bones

Ok, so the quarterfinals of the European Champions League have been - via a typically protracted, media-driven ceremony - drawn. We now know which powerhouses of soccer will clash, and the path that must be navigated to be crowned kings of Europe and winners of the most lucrative club competition in world football.

Will Fergie walk off with the cup again in 2010?
Will Fergie walk off with the cup again in 2010?

Now onto the next task ... predicting who will beat who and which team will emerge with the large-handled trophy held aloft. The realm of prediction is dangerous ground for journalists who earn their money through their knowledge and reporting of fact. All manner of dark arts are required to insure that, come the day of the final on 22 May, the prediction that has been written in black and white does not look silly.

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread as the saying goes, so here is this journalist's thought on what will happen and why. First up, the all-France tie of Lyon against Bordeaux. Two well-matched sides on the surface but having seen Lyon fell the giants of Real Madrid the feeling in my stomach says Lyon will edge it.

English champions Manchester United take on Bayern Munich of Germany in the next tie. Both teams are in good form and have a stellar array of stars, however - as demonstrated in the famous final of 1999 - superstition is the key factor that decides the winner between these auld enemies.

United are chasing an unprecedented fourth title defense at home and a unique third consecutive appearance in a European Cup final in 2010. Ferguson is not a man often denied and Bayern fans will be still be haunted by that agonizing loss a decade ago when the pressure is on. Fergie's hat-trick of European Cups could come in the same season that he has a chance to overturn Liverpool's record of English titles and surpass the record held by Matt Busby for years in charge of the Old Trafford club. The Red Devils will advance.

For these reasons United will not only beat Bayern but progress past Lyon to the Bernabeu-hosted final. But who will be their opposition?

Arsenal must beat the awe-inspiring Barcelona side led by Pep Guardiola to progress, a feat that will be beyond the Gunners. Lionel Messi is at the peak of his game, Arsenal's defense has proved leaky against top-flight opposition but the crucial factor here is Thierry Henry. Arsene Wenger is confident ahead of the game and he is not often wrong about selling players at the apposite time, however, the soothsayer in me says the footballing Gods will see Henry triumph over his former boss.

Which leaves Inter Milan against CSKA Moscow - a clean cut result. Jose Mourinho is too canny an operator to be outsmarted by the last-eight newcomers. The sparkle in the "Special One's" eyes after beating his old club Chelsea says that Inter will go far this year.

It means an enticing clash between Barca and Inter is in the offering for the second semifinal. The telling information needed to pick the winner of this match-up are the personal histories involved. Mourinho faces another former employer carrying good form in this respect, hit-man Samuel Eto'o plays against the club that sold him and Barca have the pressure of following the treble-winning season of 2009. Inter win, no doubt.

So the final will be against Mourinho's Inter and Ferguson's Manchester United, interesting in as much that Mourinho would surely jump at the chance to replace Fergie at Old Trafford when the Scot retires and the Scot, if my hunch is correct, will not retire until he has won three European Cups. It's all based on speculation of course but there's a feeling in the bones that Ferguson will get the crescendo finish to his managerial career he seeks.

United crowned champions then ... how could anyone disagree with such a scientific approach?

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soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Varun

    What a Joke. HAhahahah can't stop laughing.
    Phew man you're something.
    "Inter win, no doubt." Ahahahahaha man you should be on ComedyCentral or something, seriously.

    P.S. A reminder: This Barca team is The greatest in 150 years of Football, yes greater than 70's Brazil, greater than 82 world cup Brazil's.
    I say this because of what i see not because of whom i support.

    March 19, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Reply
  2. wad

    inter win, no doubt? haven't you seen this season's match between barcelona and inter, in which barça won 2-0 but it could have been much more? i think mourinho has more fear of barça than barça of mourinho. barcelona win, no doubt...

    March 19, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Reply
  3. Makev

    Pretty good assumption, however i beg to differ. All Man.United fans and journo's seem to think the football gods are relatives of Sir Alex,well you'll be pleasantly supprised to see the opposite, there will be no crescendo finish to his career (Its not his devine right). my honest opinion is that Barca is just too good a team to lose to any of the remaining contenders and despite their recent dip in form they will reach there peak at the right time and crush all comers, Arsenal being the first, as much as we all excited about the prospect of a very entertaining qaurter final wich it certainly will be, i got the feeling Barca is ready to emberass somebody!

    March 19, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Reply
  4. siggy forget to mention that Inter lost to Barcelona in the qualifying round (tie in Milan and two nil in Barcelona)...Inter have a chance only if Mourinho has the balls to play to win instead of playing to lose by a respectable number, as in their last encounter...

    March 19, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Reply
  5. samantha

    I don't agree with the author, the champion should be Barcelona. The Champion trophy will belong to Messi.

    March 19, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Reply
  6. Casejordan

    Well predicted but remember football is full of suprises ( ask Chelsea).
    CL is now at a level where luck plays its role to determine the winner and not may the best team win.
    I love Man U but I support FC Bayern so lets hope your prophecy works.
    Please dont go to some parts of Africa, prophets & witches are burnt alive ( just kidding).
    Your article is very nice.Thank you for it.

    March 19, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Reply
  7. evan

    I think Barca will win the final..
    Inter has the quality but not the attitude, look how Milan race the title head to head with them now...
    they lost so many points..

    As barca is still consistent with their play, and the X factor here is only Ibrahimovich which, hasn't found his best performance (again).
    but pedro n messi with their high tempo play combined with Xavi superb pass and Iniesta's individual skill would prove difficult for any team to play against barca.

    Arsenal here is the hurdle for Barcelona where English team plays with power. Barcelona, with the tiny skillful players would have to fight their way to semi.

    Hope Barcelona can do double this year for they have bid farewell to treble..

    March 19, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Reply
  8. mesfen

    in my opinion...this year inter should win the final..because of many is the main reason.. the past 4 and 5 years every team which win the finals, all have similar strength..they were a collection of very fine top players and were prepared for almost at least 3 the manger role is not a big factor ....but let us take inter just in 1 and half years their coach have made them so strong even with average players plus 2 or 3 exceptional players....that what u call an important and revolutionary and unique mind useful for future football....let us be honest if Jose Mourinho is given 20 + years in one club he would have done much more than sir Alex Ferguson....any way we need a man like Jose cause when he work in different places he is making foot ball more competitive and i hope inter and jose will succeed for the sake of beautiful foot ball...cause now day football is just money and boring or defensive foot ball like Man. Utd!!!!!

    March 19, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Reply
  9. Sarah

    Ben I agree with you. This is Manchester United's trophy. Jose can only be cunning over 2 legs. In such a final match, he wont have time to get a preamble of the two teams. I love it!

    March 19, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Reply
  10. Carlos

    Can't believe this guy is picking Inter over Barca..... final: Man U vs. Barcelona, re-match from last year... Barca wins in Madrid, in the Bernabeu... Baca gets the Champions and La Liga, all in Madrid Territory, its poetic...

    March 19, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Reply
  11. Mulwa

    There is no science in football. Everyone thought AC Milan had wasted Liverpool in the 2006 final but we all know what happened. Arsenal will eliminate Barcelona.

    March 19, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Reply
  12. Bob Dole

    Arsenal-Barca will be a lot tighter than most people think, Arsenal are even more attacking than Barca since they don't care about defense, like the Phoenix Suns of football, Barca would be the Lakers. I'd much rather Arsenal win, but I don't mind a Barca win unless they win the whole thing!
    Inter came through mostly because of Chelsea's deficiencies in the 2nd leg, and they still should have lost the first leg and conceded a penalty in the 2nd. There's no way they can beat Barcelona, and they don't have the late-stage CL experience that Arsenal do either. If they have home advantage they'll have a better chance.
    United will sail through Bayern after Fletcher injures Robben, and both Lyon/Bordeaux have too few class players to counter United. Barca would beat United worse than last year because- no Ronaldo, although I like them a lot better now with Rooney doing everything. I'd pick United over Inter, but I think Arsenal would be a 50/50, with Arsenal having the edge if they manage to steal the league title from Chelsea/United by then. Basically my heart wants Arsenal to win, my head says Barca, and Barca are my 2nd favs anyway, so there.

    March 19, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Reply
  13. Aaron

    manchester utd are going to carry the league this season

    March 19, 2010 at 8:28 pm | Reply
  14. DOOOM

    If Arsenal of for that matter any team dares to attack Barca,they'll get beat in the 1st 15 min of the match.
    Reason: Ask those who have seen Barca play in the last 18 months, And i mean Really have seen them play and knows about Football not just know about it.
    And no These journo's Don't know. 'Coz the Premiership hype blinds them to the fact that there are places where teams can play up to BPL's standard.
    Only chance against them is Chelsea's and usual Mourinho tactic of Parking the bus and hit on counter when everyone's asleep of boredom and of course hope also..

    March 19, 2010 at 9:24 pm | Reply
  15. irongwa

    you must be a man U fanatic/extremist to write this ... Do you beleive in your write up or just a wishful thinking. Its amazing you even think your judgement is scientific. Marinho has great respect for Barca and would loss to the weakest Barca team. Man U narrowly/luckily defeated Bayern a decade ago , will he still be that lucky now with a magician like Gaal ?

    March 19, 2010 at 9:51 pm | Reply
  16. jorgen friis

    Against my hopes and wishes MU will end up with nothing and The Chosen One (Jose Mourinho) will succeed Alex Ferguson, at least I
    hope. New blood, younger legs and new ideas will soon, very soon,
    be needed for MU.

    March 20, 2010 at 2:25 am | Reply
  17. Zee

    hahah I am a huge Man Utd and I agree we will win it, but Inter over Barca ? how the hell did you come up with that ? no way, the way barca are playing jose mourinho even though chelsea were horrible at the bridge got a lucky break with the ref i don't think that happens often, it's gonna be a repeat of last year Utd vs. Barca, Rooney vs. Messi, and i think the guys from manchester will take.

    March 20, 2010 at 8:27 am | Reply
  18. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    All eight Quarter Finalists look well matched. There are some wonderful football coaches manning these supremely gifted sides. Mourinho, Guardiola, Laurent Blanc, Wenger, Ferguson, Van Gaal, et al have time enough to plan and outwit their opponents. I am looking forward to see all these titans in action. Good luck to all the teams and their fans.

    March 20, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Reply
  19. stunner

    guys guys take it easy this writer is a dreamer at this level of UEFA Champs League u write out another team at ur own peril even barca coach is not thinking like u guys.arsenal-barca game is 50-50 but i see arsenal giving barca a run for their money,man u-bayern well i predict louis van gaal boys to go through,dont bet your house in this games pls

    March 20, 2010 at 7:51 pm | Reply
  20. Gladys Atieno

    Well predicted,but again this is football and to be specific this is champions league and this league is on a class of it's on. At the beginning Real madrid and Chelsea were among those teams that were expected to give Barcelona a run of its money,but now where are they? Infact no one mentioned Lyons or Csk Moscow and Man United was not expected to go any any further due to Christiano's departure.
    So don't be surprised if Arsenal edge out the Mighty Barcelona,Like they edged out Ac milan in 2008.I like your prediction especially since I am a Man United fan but let 's prepare ourselves for lots of suprises

    March 20, 2010 at 8:55 pm | Reply
  21. robert

    Barca for sure... Man United and Inter milan have a shot but Barcelona has a better chance of take home the trophee

    March 20, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Reply
  22. pramok

    MAN UTD. is lot less this season without their main players like Ronaldo and Tavez. Without reinforcement at the midfield and maybe another striking partner for Rooney – the team is not whole & balanced. I think it will be Barcelona who lifts the cup once again...... Pramok

    March 20, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Reply
  23. Evans

    Barca are an excellent team this season, however, as many of you have pointed out, arsenal is the hill for them to climb. Arsenal are a lot faster than barcelona and if they find their footing around the box, which they lack more often than not, and still end up the leading league scorers, then they will edge out barcelona. I would love wenger to win this, but I think barca are the second fauvorites.

    March 21, 2010 at 12:48 am | Reply
  24. darlington

    inter milan can't play against almighty barca,football we all know is all about possession and scoring goals which barca holds,inter milan quiver whenever they play barca,i have great respect for jose mourinho and eto'o but they are under barc'as command

    March 21, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  25. Piyu

    typical British...every year when Man United gets into the final stages of hte Champions League. they talk of a famous British victory. Well Alex is severely overrated as the greatest manager (see Harry Redknapp's column in the Sun) having being humbled by tyro manager Pep in last year's final, and was riding his luck in beating Bayern and Chelsea in two previous finals. And in every World Cup, they will pick England to be world champions. This year with Fabio, not only will they have a chance to win but also to defend the Cup to be greatest soccer team in history! Typical British, they are centre of the world and everyone is so lucky to be number two.

    In last year's final, everyone was perplexed and stated that it is Man U's game to win and Barcelona is just so DAMN lucky to win. This time around if Barca wins again, again they will say that luck is not on Man U's side.

    Soccer is not scientific and if it were, Man U is not the best side to win

    March 21, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Reply
  26. louis

    you live in america right?... wat d hey hell do u even know about the champions league, and how winners are made, for how long have u been following football, keep ur yankee thoughts about football to urself, go watch some baseball or some dead american game

    March 21, 2010 at 7:13 pm | Reply
  27. oriaku

    Every body's contribution counts alot, is unfortunate that my club was edged out at the second round i mean chelsea (injuries at a very wrongest time of the season (ashly, esien, bosungwa, peter) what a pity. Going by the predictions, do not write off arsenal they can show surprises.
    Mind you morinho reads match more than all the other remaining coaches, so beware of him and his boys. Never mind, let the best team win.

    March 22, 2010 at 11:21 am | Reply
  28. Rasaq Seriki

    You bones might probarbly lack adiquate calcium and sodium have you forget that we are too hot and sharp to hold for any Club at the moment . Arsenal for ever this season has made for us to shine unlike previous ones.

    March 22, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Reply
  29. zizou

    I am a Real Madrid fan and I hate to say this but Manchester United does not have what it takes to stop the Barcelona attack last final they really struggled and if I recall my memory correctly Barca was struggling in the first ten minutes of the match and I think the reason for that was purely because of nerves but after that they were on top. Barcelona's attack has only got better this year specially because of Ibrahamovic and Man United will be on the back foot clearly. Still Inter Milan just might pull out a surprise.

    March 24, 2010 at 4:51 am | Reply
  30. james

    i think it will be inter, barcelona sucks ,i dont kow why are you saying they are the greatest in the hisory,just becaus they won the champions league 2 times and won the fifa club world cup once, they only have 11 national titles.

    March 26, 2010 at 1:08 am | Reply
  31. james

    sorry, they only have 11 international tittles

    March 26, 2010 at 1:09 am | Reply
  32. zizou

    What he meant was this Barcelona team currently could beat any team in the history of football not that they are the greatest ever club. And when it comes to the greatest club in world football why are we even going to argue about it, it just has to be Real Madrid the statistics speaks for them self. Inter Milan did well against Chelsea but bare in mind that Chelsea wasted chances in the first leg. It's just an illusion which makes them looks stronger now. They might pull out a surprise who knows but I still say it's Barcelona because they look so much stronger than last year it's only a question whether they have enough desire to go for a 2nd straight Champions League title.

    March 26, 2010 at 9:36 am | Reply
  33. Joseph

    Interesting supposition. Odds are, Man utd really get to that Bernabeu final. Its Inter that I am not so sure about. For some reason, I tend to have this feeling we might see a replay of last season's finals. That leaves Man Utd vs Barca, for me.

    March 26, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Reply
  34. Jack

    Champions League Final, May 22, 2010, Bernabeua Santiago: Final Scores Man Utd 3 : 0 Arsenal FC. Guys, this is serious. No jokes! Watch this space!!!

    March 28, 2010 at 12:16 am | Reply
  35. Mark

    i feel it in my bones too, MAN UTD are getting stronger in every match they play, for Arsenal and Barca, it think it is 50/50, arsenal will go through with a little bit of luck. i predict an all english final, between Arsenal and United. think about it.

    March 28, 2010 at 7:05 am | Reply
  36. Milton Nyakundi

    Right up, am a journalist so I may sound biased and in support of my colleague in the 4th estate. Manchester United are really a team living its 7th life this season, why? Because few teams can or have done what they've done in 3 seasons and for a team to stay on top for such a long time, its 7th live like the cat. That said and knowing Sir Alex, it may be extremely hard for anybody to wrestle them out of contention. They've shocked everybody including themselves to be where they are at the moment and I doubt if they'd let anything go so easily unless of course lady luck prefers being against them.
    I disagree with you on Barcelona, they are good yes, but trust me, Arsenal will a very hard nut to crack notwithstanding the weak defense we've seen in the Gunners but I give it to Alex Song, he's done pretty well and the abrasive orientation of the English game may edge out the Catalans because these are two sides with similar style of football so there has to be a tie-breaker. The only banana peel for Arsene Wenger is the fact that Pep Guardiola will have a week to scheme against him when they play the second leg at the Nou Camp. Inter-CSKA is given but soccer is a game of a round football, it can be one of those bad days. In summary I agree with you, I see United in their 3rd straight final – that would be good enough for them already but who their opponent will be in Madrid, its still a very vague situation maybe we can tell after the quarters. Am not sure United's Sir Alex would have the crescendo he deserves because getting into the final is one thing and winning of course another. However, United in the final gives them 70% chance of lifting the trophy. Oh, I didn't who I support so may I – Man Utd.

    March 28, 2010 at 10:13 am | Reply
  37. Kobyeb

    There's not doubt who's gonna win. The trophy belongs to United and I wish the other competitors luck.

    March 30, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Reply
  38. Anna

    Hahaha...Utd?!? l dont think so. lf anyone deserves this title, its Barca! Unlike Barca, Utd are not playing attractive football and the only player in 100% form at the moment is Rooney. So my vote goes to Barca!

    March 30, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Reply
  39. Kevin

    that was just a wake -up call from Bayern..!! i also feel it , united are going to be crowned champions of Europe once again..!!! no one ever survives in Old Trafford !!

    March 31, 2010 at 11:00 pm | Reply
  40. Abhinandan Reddy

    I would love to see United play Barca in Madrid.

    Would be a dream game and nobody would really care who wins it because it will be attacking football at its best.

    Maybe the galacticos of Real can learn something from them then.

    April 1, 2010 at 1:11 am | Reply
  41. Jack

    Now that's some talk. you got that all right United are going all the way to lifting that trophy in Madrid.

    April 4, 2010 at 6:39 am | Reply
  42. Allan

    Manchester united will win definately.

    April 7, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Reply
  43. Varun

    hahaha. Told you.

    "United will win the Champions League ... I feel it in my bones

    April 7, 2010 at 10:01 pm | Reply
  44. Makev

    So what do you say no...Mr feel it in my bones? And your colleague that jumped in to defend you? In this game we don't go by feelings of biast or teams we support, you must appreciate qaulity and make your assumptions on what you can see and what you know about football (soccer for the "misinformed"), Over the last 2 years Barca has been the best performing team on the planet but seems to get no recognition as they don't play in the premier lg, where's the PL teams now??????

    April 8, 2010 at 11:17 am | Reply
  45. Didi

    Oh shame, United knocked out the champions league and so were the gunners. What a sad state of affairs that there are no english teams going to the semis never mind the finals, well its going to be an inter-barca final and barca will lift that beautiful trophy which the gunners have never won...well maybe next year....

    April 8, 2010 at 11:27 am | Reply
  46. Dova Conga

    Ha Ha!

    April 8, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Reply
  47. Tunji

    Dear Ben,

    Great Piece!!

    Do you mind editing it please.

    Now do you mind telling me the feeling in your bones for the world cup. I intend placing some bets and whatever you say i flip 180 degrees. lol!

    April 8, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Reply
  48. Bart

    April FOOLS hahahahaha xxixixixii

    April 8, 2010 at 9:18 pm | Reply
  49. jen

    Ha ha ha! Manchester United didn't even get to see Barça. Stick to the football you know best, the one played with helmets and pads.

    April 9, 2010 at 11:04 am | Reply
  50. jen

    And oh, my post was edited. It's the wrong post to edit, Sir, edit the topmost first. The arrogance of it all makes me laugh.

    April 9, 2010 at 11:23 am | Reply
  51. zizou

    hahaha Man United just got beaten by Bayern Munich. If Barcelona comes to the final beating Inter Milan now they will win the cup BUT if Inter Milan comes to the final I think Bayern Munich will win the Cup 😉

    April 19, 2010 at 11:22 am | Reply
  52. Francisco

    Swallow you words, commentators!

    December 13, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Reply

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