A couple of weeks ago, the day Barcelona played Chelsea in the semi-final, I decided to watch the entire match till late in the night, much against the advice of my doctor. In the end, I realised that the show was not worth earning the wrath of my family physician.
Thankfully, Barcelona managed to scrape through as Chelseas ultra-defensive tactics left a sour taste in the mouth. But on Wednesday, I will once again defy my doctors recommendation of retiring to bed early.
This time I am confident I will stay awake to watch some free-flowing soccer between the two best teams in the world. Surely, this is the most eagerly anticipated final for European supremacy in many years and should be the most attractive, too. After all, both teams enjoy the reputation of playing attacking football.
As I sit down to write this column, the inevitable question that comes to my mind is who I should call the favourites. As an expert, I am expected to predict the winners but this time, please forgive me for taking the middle path. The problem is that the philosophy of football is more or less the same for both teams. They move the ball around the ground, are an attacking team who play three upfront and have excellent strikers.
If, for the defending champions, Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez can create havoc, the same could be expected from Barcelonas Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto.
The fate of the match could well be decided by a moment of magic from one of these many stars on show.
My only worry is that Barcelona may fall short in their defence. As it is, they are not a side known for possessing a great defence and they are now bothered by too many suspensions and injuries. The reports suggest that defenders Daniel Alves and Eric Abidal are both suspended, while central defender Rafael Marquez is out for the season after a knee injury. If Henry also fails to turn out because of an injury, Alex Fergusons job of winning back-to-back titles will definitely get easier.
United, on the other hand, are much better placed as everyone with the exception for Rio Ferdinand is raring to go.
But, then, Ronaldo should not take things lightly. I have all the respect for the worlds best footballer but I dont like the way he sometimes holds the ball for longer than is necessary. If he continues to play spoilsport, the Barcelona defence will certainly take care of him.
In the midfield, my new-found favourite is Barcelonas Andres Iniesta. Along with Xabi Hernandez, he is a dynamic footballer and his quality of movement and passing are simply a treat to watch. I sincerely hope he clears the fitness test to play the final.
At the same time, I must warn that the final could prove to be an anti-climax. While I have little doubt that Barcelona would not abandon their attacking brand of football that propelled them to that awe-inspiring 6-2 victory over Real Madrid the other day, there is every chance of United adopting defensive tactics.
I can say that English teams are reluctant to turn adventurous in crucial matches. I wont be surprised if United opt to defend in some depth and score on counter attacks. After all, the Champions League finals have mostly been low scoring ones.
Last but not the least, as a former coach I am tempted to say a few words on the two managers. At 67, Ferguson has practically won every trophy that a European club coach can expect to add to his kitty. On the other hand, if Barcelona win, their 38-year-old manager Pep Guardiola will be the youngest manager in 49 years to lift the trophy and the third youngest of all time. It could be the beginning of a new era. In that case, I, for sure, wont be terribly disappointed.