Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Barcelona 2 Manchester United 0

The English Premiership is reputedly the best in the world, with their champions Manchester United supposedly at the pinnacle of their powers. Barcelona were missing most of their defence, and according to the BBC’s Alan Green were handicapped by having a clown in the shape of Valdes in goal. With such a set of overwhelming circumstances against them, how the hell did Barcelona win the 54th European Cup final?

It didn’t look good for them in the first 10 minutes when United absolutely pummelled the Barcelona defence. Cristiano Ronaldo had 5 shots on goal alone in that period. However the key moment arrived just 10 minutes in when Iniesta, making his first run at the United defence, passed to the Cameroon forward Samuel Eto’o, who danced around Vidic and struck a powerful shot. Van Der Sar could only parry it into the ground and into the net. From then on Barcelona took a firm grip on the game, and the writing was on the wall for Manchester United.

Barcelona won by playing what used to be called “continental” football, ie measured passing and possession football. It was this which killed the Manchester United game plan more than anything, as United struggled to mount any momentum. The midfield three of Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta were fantastic as their possession and passing became the platform of the Barcelona performance. Xavi and Iniesta built on the plaudits they received when they were in the midfield during Spains European Championship win last year. Yet Barcelona didn’t really press home their advantage until the second half, when they created a flurry of chances with Henry, Eto’o and Messi all coming close. With 20 minutes left Barcelona won the game with a second goal.

Xavi on the Barcelona right put in an absolute peach of a cross, quite possibly the best cross of the season, and Lionel Messi headed the ball into the net (right), it was a strange header, slow but gave Van Der Sar no chance. That as they say was that.

Yep, Manchester United didn’t really turn up (first 10 minutes apart), and were quite obviously missing Darren Fletcher. However, there are not many teams who would have been able to have coped with the fluid multi-tempo passing. This type of team just simply does not exist in the harem-scarem world of the English Premiership.

Barcelona’s victory represented a return to the values of possession football, something which is non existent in this country. More than that, it represented two fingers at the dominance, and the playing style of the English Premiership.

No comments:

Post a Comment