Champions League Final
Manchester United and Barcelona will clash in football’s most watched annual fixture—the UEFA Champions League final—at Wembley Stadium on 28 May. Both teams have won the Champions League thrice. They also met in the 2009 final, Barcelona winning 2-0.
For Barcelona, Lionel Messi, 23, has been in inspirational form, his small frame haring through defences. He has scored 31 goals in the Spanish League and 11 in the Champions League. Messi has the support of midfielders Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta in attack. In defence, Barcelona have stalwarts such as captain Carles Puyol, defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano and goalkeeper Victor Valdes.
United’s pillars are Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, Nani, Paul Scholes and Anderson. As goalie, they have the 40-year-old but still reliable Edwin van Der Sar.
Just wetting toes in Champions League waters means big money for teams. According to the UEFA, each of the 32 teams that featured in the main draw last season received a participation fee of €3.8 million and a match bonus of €550,000. In addition, there is a bonus of €800,000 for a win in the group stage and €400,000 for a draw.
Interestingly, sometimes the champions earn less than the losing team. In 2009, champions Barcelona earned €31 million. United, the runners-up, took home €38.3 million. The reason for this is two-layered. Manchester United did better in the English league that year than Barcelona in the Spanish league. This, combined with the value of the television market in the two countries, resulted in United deserving bigger bonuses as per Champions League rules.