Hey, at least they put up a fight for about 15 minutes and one counter attack. Eventually, the better, much better team won. Xavi produced another midfield masterclass, Lionel Messi was well, Lionel Messi, and Barcelona won their second Champions League title in three years since the Josep Guardiola reign began, making it another League-European double, more than any other European club. It was their 11th European trophy, also a record, but shared.
When it came down to it, the midfield Barcelona have, the Xavi-Iniesta-Sergi plus Lionel Messi who dwelt further away from goal tonight than usual is probably the greatest ever. United have a giant of a goalkeeper (his final soccer match) and two fantastic centre backs. Still, when the midfield collapses and can’t stop the Barcelona waves time and time again, there was no chance. It looked like Alex Ferguson realized that in the second half, as he didn’t seem to heart broken about the loss or too eager to make changes that wouldn’t have changed anything.
Some of the numbers? Barcelona had 22 shots, 12 of them on target. Manchester United? Four, with only one going on target, the Wayne Rooney goal, and quite a splendid one. Translation? Victor Valdes was kind of bored most of the game. People don’t like the posession thing, but when Barcelona win so many times, I guess it’s not bad to have the usual 68-32 advantage. United hardly moved forward. There were times they could barely get out of their own box, like before David Villa’s goal, finishing off the game.
For a few moments it seemed that the Mascherano-Pique combination won’t be working, but United can’t press Barcelona all day. Not when you have a fragile midfield with Carrick and Ryan Giggs. I know he’s a legend, but Giggs can only gives so many good games in a season. At 37, matching up with the best midfield duo in the world isn’t for him. The usual forward pressing for Barcelona did the work, creating turnover after turnover. The Villa-Pedro switch that Guardiola made got Villa out of his funk, and he looked more dangerous than he has for months.
It’s amazing to think that quite a few of these Barcelona players, with David Villa joining them tonight, have won every possible title – League, Euro, World Cup and the Champions League. Guardiola, with three years of experience, has never dropped a league title. This special team won’t last forever, and this golden age, as for every other great team in the past, will end. Right now, it looks like the Barcelona domination will be going on for a while.
I felt sorry for Vidic and Ferdinand, who made stop brilliant tackles throughout the game. They were overmatched, and didn’t have enough help from the men upfront. The moment Barcelona gained control of the match, Dani Alves began his runs forward and the famous and relentless pressure went into full gear, you knew United players and fans were in for a long night. It certainly was. United had a less than brilliant team this year. Resilient and resourceful, like their manager, yes. You need more than that to beat a team in the caliber of Barcelona. Messi magic, Xavi magic, whatever you wanna call it, is just too much for pretty much any side in Europe right now.