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United unable to deny a brilliant Barcelona

It cannot possibly be denied! Barcelona has proved once again that they are simply the best club side in the world. The look on Sir Alex Fergusons face at the trophy presentation after the game said it all after the Catalans clinically brushed Manchester United aside with an emphatic 3-1 victory at Wembley. He knew, as we all did, that his team was beaten by a better side. The biggest compliment I can possibly pay Barca is that as a dedicated, passionate United fan, I am obviously disappointed by such a resounding defeat but far from devastated. Tribute must simply be paid to a wonderful Barcelona side – and what can any more be said about Lionel Messi?

Ferguson had no hesitation in admitting that “We were beaten, there is no other way to address the situation, by the best team. I expected us to do better but at the end of the day we were beaten by the better team. They are the best team we have ever played, they are at the peak of their cycle. There was good evidence we are a consistently good European team” he continued “but we were beaten by the best team in Europe and there is no shame in that. Sometimes you come up against a far better team and tonight was one of those nights. We expected to do better, simple as that. We have had a great season in many ways, it is just disappointing that we have been to Wembley twice and been beaten. We are just disappointed it has ended on this note”

No need to be disappointed about anything Sir Alex. 2010-11 has been a wonderful season for Manchester United and its fans, a record 19 titles is proof of it.

One final thought which is admittedly self indulgent. Anfield fans can wipe the smiles off their faces, the huge smirks which can be sensed after this United defeat. The undeniable truth is that Liverpool has never, ever, in four of their European Cup wins last century had to face a team like this Barcelona.

Manchester United  1  v Barcelona 3 – Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and admit defeat. The Reds could hardly have prepared better, and even dominated the game’s early stages, but at Wembley on Saturday night Barcelona proved why so many regard them as the best footballing team on the planet. They’re certainly champions of Europe. That much is certain now. Not even Wayne Rooney’s first half equaliser after Pedro had put the Spanish side ahead, blunted their relentless passing game for long.

There can be no shame in defeat. Not to this Barcelona side, a group of players that will surely go down as one of the most talented sides ever assembled. This is a team that boasts, arguably, three of the best five players in the world, a side that battered Real Madrid 5-0 earlier this season in a performance that prompted Rooney to stand and applaud in his own living room.

Perhaps in years to come Rooney will admire Barcelona’s performance in this match, too. At Wembley on Saturday there was only disappointment, punctuated briefly when he curled home from 15 yards to ignite hope. After that, though, Rooney, like most of his team-mates, struggled to make an impact.

Just as in Rome two years ago, the Reds started brightly and spent the majority of the opening 10 minutes in the Barcelona half. United’s midfield made early challenges and pressed high up the pitch, with Ji-sung Park and Michael Carrick proving particularly effective at disrupting the Catalans’ rhythm.

Barcelona almost appeared shell shocked. The Spanish champions were uncharacteristically wasteful in possession – even Lionel Messi and were nervy at the back. It wasn’t until the 16th minute, when Pedro ghosted in front of Rio Ferdinand at the near post to poke wide from Sergio Busquet’s right-wing centre, that Barcelona showed any signs of settling.

Messi’s first flash of magic arrived shortly afterwards, although his pass at the end of a mazy dribble was slightly over-hit and Reds skipper Nemanja Vidic booted the ball to safety. David Villa flashed a long-range shot wide of Edwin van der Sar’s left-hand post and then, a minute later, forced a smart save from the Dutchman as Barcelona began to take control. Vidic then showed why he’s ranked amongst the best defenders in the world, stretching out a long leg to halt another Messi run inside the penalty area, but it was further proof that United’s grip on the game was slipping.

And then Barcelona struck. Playmaker Xavi burst forward, drew two defenders and slipped the ball to Pedro on his outside. Vidic couldn’t reach him quick enough and the 23-year-old kept his cool to beat van der Sar at the near post. The Reds stopper, playing in his fifth Champions League final and his last ever professional game, will have been disappointed with the concession and United minds must have rolled back to 2009. Then, after scoring first, the Spaniards held onto the ball superbly and barely gave United a kick.

Lessons were learned that night, though, and within seven minutes at Wembley the Reds were back on level terms. It was Rooney, at the end of a tumultuous season both on and off the pitch, who found the net and dragged United back into the game, exchanging passes with both Carrick and Giggs before curling the ball past Victor Valdes from 15 yards.

There was elegance in the move and grace in the finish – proof that Barcelona aren’t the only side who can do justice to the beautiful game. And although Andres Iniesta tried his luck from distance and Messi was mere inches from Villa’s cross on the stroke of half-time, Sir Alex’s men went into the break at 1-1.

Barcelona remained in the ascendancy when the second period began. Xavi twice found space on the edge of the area to shoot, only to be denied by blocks from Vidic and Carrick, while Dani Alves blasted at van der Sar after finding space down the right; Messi’s follow-up was headed clear by Patrice Evra.

A minute later, Messi restored the Catalans’ advantage, stroking the ball home from 20 yards. Nobody was surprised the ball found the net – it was his 12th goal in 13 Champions League games this season – but even the Argentina star must have have raised an eyebrow or two at the amount of space he was afforded. There was no United player within five yards of the Barcelona no.10 when he received the ball. Evra and Vidic made tentative moves toward him, but by the time either had committed themselves, Messi had advanced and picked his spot, guiding the ball past van der Sar from 20 yards.

At the other end, United struggled to involve Javier Hernandez, a player who so much seemed to rest upon before kick-off. The Mexican was often isolated, or caught offside – certainly, opportunities for him to unsettle Barcelona with his blistering pace were few and far between.

A cheeky Messi flick was cleared off the line by Fabio just after the hour-mark, before Xavi and Iniesta drew smart stops from van der Sar. Barcelona’s killer third goal arrived on 69 minutes and in spectacular fashion. Again Messi was the architecht, wriggling his way into the area and drawing defenders like bees to honey. The Reds did nick the ball, but only briefly. When it was rolled back to David Villa on the edge of the area, he took one touch to trap it dead before his second delivered the killer blow. With minimum backlift he achieved maximum impact, curling the ball sumptuously into the top corner.

That was that. There was no coming back from there. Not from 3-1 down. Not against Barcelona. Just as in 2009, United will have to settle for being champions of England and runners up to the best team on this planet or another.

Manchester United – van der Sar, Fabio (Nani 68), Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Carrick (Scholes 76), Giggs, Park, Rooney, Hernandez GOALS – Rooney 33m

BarcelonaValdes, Alves (Puyol 87), Mascherano, Pique, Abidal, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Pedro (Afellay 91), Messi, Villa (Keita 85) GOALS – Pedro 27m, Messi 54m, Villa 69m

Can anyone have any complaints about Barcelona winning of the Champions League?


No Responses to “United unable to deny a brilliant Barcelona”

  1. Devro says:

    That has to be the worst showing by any team in a cl final. Yes barcerlona were good but only becaus united were that crap they made them look good

  2. pete says:

    You are right frank when liverpool won there 4 cup last century they didnt meet a team like barcelona becaus they were that team like barcelona

  3. RedScot says:

    Read it.

  4. Frank Scicluna says:

    United actually played against Barcelona Devro NOT Barcerlona

  5. Frank Scicluna says:

    Sorry pete, the Liverpool of the 80’s would not have been able to polish Barcelona’s 2011 boots. Just out of curiosity mate, were you even born then?

  6. Danish Gooner says:

    Barca were brilliant but Fergie got the tactics dead wrong and it surprises me a lot.They should have put much more attention to stiffling their midfield and especially Messi,Inter worked it out last season,they completely neutralized Messi over two games,admittedly these days Barca is a lot more then Messi,the outstanidng Busquets,iniesta etc……but still i feel United lets them self down tactically tonight.

  7. pete says:

    I am 57 i am not what you call a liverpool fan Blackpool is my team. i am just saying i think the liverpool of the 80,s and the united of the 90’s would have given that team a good run for there money

  8. i am proud says:

    i am proud to be man utd fan today.
    we tried and failed. we faild against the best team in football history and please cut the crap about liverpool(80) or milan(90) or any other team.

    this is not natural that they play against us against real against any team like it was a childrens team.

    simply the best and i hope next season we will meet again becouse we have to revenge.

  9. Frank Scicluna says:

    It’s all about football opinions pete. There has never been a side like today’s Barcelona despite all the wonderful memories we share.

  10. Frank Scicluna says:

    @Danish Gooner, You and I can be the greatest managers in the world AFTER a game! Gambles must be taken in football. You win sometimes and lose on others. It worked well for Sir Alex in the first 45 minutes but the cream always rises to the top in the end. As much as it hurts to say, it must be a well done to Guardiola and his great Barcelona team

  11. dbn says:

    We won it FIVE times, you miserable pricks. Be gracious in your defeat today, we all know you aren’t gracious winners. You deserved to be embarrassed in front of the world. Have a good weekend!

  12. Frank Scicluna says:

    What sort of comment is that dbn? How much more gracious to a great Barcelona team can anyone be? YES, LFC won it five times – four of them 20 years ago in the last century. How can that possibly be relevant in 2011?

  13. RedScot says:

    Millenium to be precise lets not nit pick though! lmao
    The bugger is in the detail. Innit

  14. RedScot says:

    THE author you favour the Daily fail, two posts on news now at 01.51. Lets see you? lol.

  15. Frank Scicluna says:

    Incidentally dbn. Before you sprout your venomous envy just ask yourself. Where was your beloved Liverpool as United played in the third Champions League final in four years. Nowhere else but in the second division, Thursday night, Europa League from which they were eliminated AND will not even participate in next season! Does that mean European THIRD division – maybe even worse? Enjoy your season in the shadows of the elite European clubs!

  16. Danish Gooner says:

    Barca are a very fine team but the Barcelona-Ac Milan cl final where Milan gave a master class in attacking football still is the pinnacle for me.I still feel that the Milan team of the eighties is the best simply because they were best at both attacking and defending they simply had it all,Barca are running them closely but for me it is AC.

  17. Frank Scicluna says:

    The AC Milan side of that era was absolutely magnificent Danish Gooner. I still have that performance on video and enjoy watching it but today’s Barcelona has taken the game to another level.

  18. five star says:

    Just as a matter of interest Frank. What teams do you include in your European elite?

  19. Frank Scicluna says:

    @five star – Without going into a club by club explanation, you only have to look at the ones who have CONSISTENTLY won their leagues rather than a one off like Blackburn Rovers did. The sheer amount of luck involved in winning cups – Portsmouth? should also be excluded. For example, would United have got to the Champions League final this season had they not enjoyed a slice of good fortune by drawing Schalke in the semi instead of either Real or Barca? Maybe, maybe not but it shows just how much luck plays a part in winning any knock out competition. The ONLY European elite clubs from the Premier League for the last 20 years have been United, Chelsea and Arsenal. Will that change in future years? Apart from wishful thinking by some, only time will tell.



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