A match of the top two teams in the world turned predictable as Barcelona pinned United back with pin-point possession football. But the match was always meant to be that way. United were to then play at pace on the break, attacking Barcelona’s patched-up defence. This is a team shorn of 3 of it’s best defenders but United were unable to penetrate. Their centre midfield had been made to look impotent. It was simply bypassed at times. All the hype about Anderson and Vidic’s defensive abilities look forlorn as Toure, Puyol, Pique and Silvinho had few problems after a nervous first 10minutes.
Ronaldo became increasingly frustrated but his arrogant, blinkered sulking would have missed the genius at the other end. Like Cantona, Maradona and Zidane, Messi’s talent is that he is a team player despite his extravagant skills. Other players are willing to make runs for him for two simple reasons. 1) there is a very good chance he will pass the ball; and 2) he will likely use the created space to further the team. Too often Ronaldo ran aimlessly, over-running the ball or simply running at his own men before running into a wall of defenders.
Going forward, Barcelona were constrained by a less than fit Henry but Eto took his chance like a quality striker. Xavi and Iniesta controlled the ball with such fluidity. British commentators before the game questioned if they could handle the physical side of United’s game. Seems laughable now. You can only tackle a man with the ball. Barcelona moved it round with such fast accuracy, Anderson and Carrick were by-standers. Rooney was positioned out the game. Park barely touched the ball. Berbatov was wasteful while Scholes and Giggs looked their age for once.
All credit to Barcelona though. They bought well in the summer, complimented the supreme talent they have in midfield matched together with solidity and organisation at the back. World class team certainly but with the ability and age to keep it going for 2/3 years.
Let’s not have any talk about Messi going to Chelsea, Man City or Manchester United. Say what you want about revenue or profit. Messi is already at the best club in the world in a fantastic city, getting paid and his family taken care. Que Mes Un Club.
Apologies and commiserations to Si, Danny, LP, Vedran, Jennie!