Lionel Messi and Nothing Much Else (Barcelona vs Manchester United)

It’s been more than 3 years since Manchester United met Barcelona in the Champions League final, and not much has changed, except for the Barcelona head coach. Lionel Messi is the best player on the pitch, with almost anything good Barca produce during his time on the pitch, while his team’s depth and quality was once again too much for Ferguson’s men to handle.

And it’s not that Barcelona were that good. Just like against PSG, it ended in a draw, this time 0-0, with Manchester United on the losing end, but the differences between the sides, despite of all of Ferguson’s attempts over the past few years to change the balance after losing twice to Barcelona in the champions league final, were apparent even without the goals, even more in the second half, with Xavi and Fabregas coming off the bench.

The only chances United were able to create came from corners – one from Ashley Young, which Valdes judges all wrong and nearly put into his own net, and twice from Shinji Kagawa, taking shots from weird angles, which Pinto was aware enough to stop. Wayne Rooney did miss a penalty and the rebound quite awkwardly, but there wasn’t much to tell about United’s performance. They’re still second best when it comes to Barcelona in pretty much every aspect you can think of.

Lionel Messi had one of those matches he’s recently had for Argentina. Moving a bit backwards and playing more of a playmaker role. Like everything he does, he did it very well, building up almost every Barcelona attack of note, but David de Gea was having a good day at the United goal, hoping he can put his disappointing debut season behind him.

There was a bit of bad blood on the pitch, obviously involving Sergio Busquets on the Barcelona side and Nani on the other side. The problem regarding Nani is that he whines and complains so much when there’s no need to, that actual fouls on him go unnoticed or don’t get the attention they deserve. A good player, great on some nights, but not the next Ronaldo, not even close.

A friendly doesn’t tell us much, but it’s hard to ignore the differences between the sides, and the obvious conclusion that it’ll be very hard for Manchester United, with the current crop of players, to produce a meaningful Champions League campaign. At home? They’re always in the thick of things there, but the team hasn’t been upgraded enough to be considered favorites for the title. Not with Manchester City staying just the way they were.