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Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United: Best Team In The World Wins

5747881228 dc18e22a56 Barcelona 3 1 Manchester United: Best Team In The World Wins

Photo by Mick Baker)rooster

Barcelona, arguably the greatest football team in the history of the sport, created a magisterial performance Saturday night that made Manchester United, a world power in soccer, look like mere mortals. The Spanish side were deserved 3-1 winners against a United side that were simply outclassed in every position on the field.

The dominance by Barcelona was so one-sided that the game felt like watching a target practice at times. Pep Guardiola’s side controlled the possession, which wasn’t surprising, but they also seemed more hungry to win this game. They put on a football clinic on English soil to prove to the world how exemplary they are.

Manchester United’s first half performance was disguised by one piece of mastery from Wayne Rooney who scored a goal that Barcelona would have been proud of. The goal, which should have been disallowed because Giggs was offside, was the only shot on target by United in the first half. Throughout the rest of the half, United failed to hold possession and consistently lost the ball either by poor passing, wayward goal kicks by Edwin van der Sar or just sheer incompetence.

The three goals that were scored by Barcelona were due to a combination of brilliance from Barcelona and defensive lapses by United. The first goal by Pedro was well taken but Nemanja Vidic gave the striker too much space. Barcelona’s second goal by Lionel Messi was made too easy after Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic gave the Argentine too much time and space on the goal to rocket a shot toward goal. Barcelona’s third goal was the result of a weak clearance by Michael Carrick. The ball then found its way to David Villa who picked his spot and chipped in a delightful goal.

The defensive lapses by United were unfortunate given that it’s been one of the best attributes of the Red Devils this season.

This was a frustrating performance by Manchester United. We know that the players have the skill to put on a better performance than this, but they lacked a leader at Wembley who could step up and lift the team. The closest to that was Wayne Rooney who tried to make a difference, but when it’s one man against eleven, it’s an impossible task.

Overall, the biggest difference in this match was Manchester United’s incapability of playing football. When they got the ball, they either lost it or failed to create enough chances for their forwards to take a shot at goal. Javier Hernandez was practically invisible. The addition of Nani failed to create much other than a tame shot. Park Ji-Sung, while defensively sound, was unable to create the golden chances that a club needs to try to win a match. They need new creative midfielders to help their forwards.

Nevertheless, congratulations to Barcelona on a well-deserved victory. In the battle between the best team in the world versus the best manager in the world, the best team won. For United, it’s back to the drawing board.

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

62 Responses to Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United: Best Team In The World Wins

  1. Lyle says:

    Yep, this game was like watching Manchester United play Torquay on Tuesday night in September.

  2. MNUfan1991 says:

    Congrats to Barcelona. We lost to a better team. No diving, no cheating, no controversy. Just good, clean football all around. We’ll be back, like we have done three times in four years.
    BEL19VE

  3. jb says:

    “Best team in the world” I think the bizillion other sports in the world might have something to say about that.

    Funny how the English press is saying Barcelona deserved to win & Man United didn’t, but when Arsenal got beat at Camp Nou, the English press couldn’t stop bad mouthing them

  4. DON says:

    Congrats to Barca…the better team. as a United fan I am gutted but to be fair the fact that we reached the final is an achievement in of itslef given this cannot be counted as one of the stronger United sides…I just wanted to comment about the US coverage which was just abysmal…I like the touch of having Brad Friedel in there but Curt Menefee has no business being at Wembley. I’ve never been a Wynalda fan but at least he played the game at some level…also the decision to show the game on the main FOX channel was also disastrous for fans in the Minneapolis/St Paul Metro…we were forced to watch the whole 2nd half in Picture in Picture style as the local affiliate decided to prempt CHampions league covergae with weather coverage for a storm south of the metro…weather coverage…would they do that during the super bow? I think if they did somebody whould lose their job…this is a disgrace and I am livid that the weather person even gleefly commented how he knew the game was important to many but they were going to talk about weather anyway..for an hour..what a disgrace..FOX has no business showing big soccer events if this is the best they can do…the american footy consumer is a lot more sophisticated and passionate than they could ever imagine..out of touch they are…

  5. somerville says:

    It’s always good to see greatness rewarded. United were a very good side this season, but Barcelona were a team for the ages — and that gulf in class was on full display tonight.

    Barça seemed to be wearing down as the season ground on — think how many of them were playing for Spain all the way through the World Cup — so it was great to see them back to vintage Barça.

    A bit strange that inarguable offside on Giggs wasn’t given — and even stranger that it wasn’t a bigger talking point at half time on FOX. But it turned out not even a bonus goal for United from the officials could derail the champs’ date with destiny.

    I know Carrick had rediscovered his form recently and Scholes is a shadow of the player he once was, but if Sir Alex had it to do over, I’m sure he would’ve started The Man Who Never Learned to Tackle over Carrick. And I know Park gives them effort, but Nani had too good a season to leave him on the bench for this one.

    I’m just glad the best team in the world won the Champions League this season after the joke that was last season’s UCL final between two good-but-not-great sides.

  6. Guy says:

    Yikes!

    dismantle: to strip; to take apart

  7. Keith says:

    I like SAF but I think he got his tactics all wrong today.

    You can’t give Barca a 3-2 man advantage in the middle. I understand playing Rooney and Hernandez but one of them needed to cover Busquetes (play a 4-5-1 or 4-4-1-1). Pique and Mascherano were happy to pass back and forth all day and Hernandez couldn’t cover both by himself so Rooney constantly got impatient and jumped forward, leaving Barca a 3 on 2 and allowed them to move forward. Busquetes isn’t dangerous but when he holds the ball and forces a MF to come cover him either Xavi or Iniesta will have space and that’s dangerous. If anything, have the RW drop back into coverage leaving Abidal alone. He is surprisingly mobile but won’t kill you like the MF combo will.

    Rooney’s goal cam about because a weaker Barca passer messed up when pressured. That’s how you beat Barca. Make the back 4 make a longer pass when pressed, steal it and beat them with speed. Easier said than done but Rooney not sticking with his man let Barca go through the middle too easily.

    Ferdinand and Vidic may be great EPL defenders but their lack of speed was shown for all today. I can’t help but wondering if having a back four of Fabio-Evra-Rafael-Vidic back line would have made more sense. Fabio would deal with the weakest forward and cover the left if Alves beats his coverage. Evra could shift to cover Pedro if Fabio covers Alves but otherwise can use his pace to help cover Messi. Rafael would be the defender that would follow Messi away from the goal and has the pace to stay with him. He’s small but physical and can irritate Messi with his strength all game. Then out right (yes out right) I’d play Vidic because Villa is a striker that was shifted outside. Yes, Villa is small and fast but he’s not as agile as Messi or Pedro. Villa is the most similar forward Barca has to a forward in the EPL. VIlla also doesn’t track all they way back (like Messi or Pedro) so Vidic could stay deep at all times. Vidic and Ferdinand looked like cones today used as practice for the Barca forwards to dribble around.

    I think a player like Song is needed for this Man Utd side. They don’t have an agile destroyer who could follow a player like Iniesta all around the field. Today it showed.

    • somerville says:

      You’re right on about the destroyer. Look at the other sides in the top four. You’ve got Essien at Chelsea, de Jong at City, and Song at Arsenal. United don’t have the commanding defensive midfielder to break up an opposing attack when it gets rolling. United basically are dependent on their attack keeping opponents off balance. I think that’s a key reason why they struggled so much away from Old Trafford. When opponents got their tails up, United were vulnerable.

    • Lyle says:

      Owen Hargreaves if he was healthy. It’s not like SAF tried.

    • Devils Advocate says:

      Ferguson used the twins earlier in the season to great effect. I recall Rafael being goal provider for Fabio. I believe those two could play defensive/midfield roles for United very effectively. Hopefully, they’ll get their chances next season. Time to get Wellbeck and Cleverly back too.

      We all knew midfield was United’s achilles heel. As bad as this defeat is, it should act as a catalyst for wholsale midfield change. I’m confident in the likes of Rooney & Chicharito and the team will rebound as they always do.

  8. Brad in SoCal says:

    Comments seem a bit harsh on Man U, since Barca played practically a perfect game. 20 shots to 4, 70-30 possession. Sick!

    As for the coverage, I guess we give Fox points for trying, though it was a bit annoying to have to listen to the NFL theme song. All that money for video montages and apparently none for new music? But at least we got to see it in HD! (Sorry, Minneapolis.)

  9. 1888 says:

    Van der Sar’s performance was poor. The barca’s first goal was a normal shot and Edwin stayed immobile.

    Also in the second goal, van der Sar reacts late, he was in a bad position and the ball entered almost in the middle of the goal posts.

    • Don says:

      VDS was not at fault for either goal…for the first he was left exposed by his defenders and gambled Pedro was going to shoot across goal and the 2nd Messi goal he was unsighted by Evra and Vidic…I think Evra was really United’s weak link defensively..bad positioning and going wlkabout defensively…

      • MNUfan1991 says:

        Well said, Don. Funny how many armchair experts cannot grasp the basics of goalkeeping. If someone’s shooting on goal point-blank, the only thing a keeper can do is to guess where the ball will be. Get it wrong and it’s all over. (note: I used to play GK in college soccer. Not that my school was any good. Crawley Town could kick our butt)
        I see no fault in VDS’s performance. We gave our best and it wasn’t enough.

  10. Frank says:

    The gaffer wrote: “In the battle between the best team in the world versus the best manager in the world, the best team won.”

    Some might take exception to calling Ferguson the best manager in the world. He’s been beaten twice by the same manager, Guardiola. Ferguson is definitely one of the most successful but I wouldn’t go so far as calling him the best. In the EPL, he’s the best. But not otherwise. The best manager in the world doesn’t get his tactics wrong twice against the same opposition.

    Right now I would say that Pep Guardiola is the best manager in the world. He’s won the CL twice in four years, not to mention his domestic success. Ferguson has won the CL twice in 20+ years.

    • Don says:

      Ferguson is the best man manager in world football..I wouldn’t call him the best tactician…that has always been his admitted weakness and it took him many years to find a formula to win in Europe…I can’t say Pep is the best…Pep has the best collection of players in world football outside of Real Madrid…if he can take that to another club and have such success..I’ll give him those kudos…

  11. PedroMessiVilla says:

    Sunday 29th May 2011

    Champions League Final Match report

    Unfortunately we are unable to bring you the match report of last night’s Champions League Final due to a Premier League Club taking out a super injunction.

    The Super Injunction was granted at around 22:00 last night.

    It is alleged that the team in question are using it to hide claims that they were ****** by a famous Argentinian star???

  12. Jeff says:

    I’m not going to argue that Manchester United were the better team on the day, because they weren’t. But this performance was one of the worst I’ve seen this season. I think equal to Barcelona winning was United losing this game. They played poorly. They passed poorly. The usual great goalkeeping gave up two soft goals. It was painful to watch as a United fan, because I still am not overly impressed with this Barcelona squad. I think they appear so great because they play in a weak league. La Liga is all about two clubs. The rest haven’t got a shot in hell of beating either unless they get lucky.

    Compare that to the Premiership, where there are four teams with a real shot at the trophy, but others moving in (Tottenham and City), and much of the league always gives a tough game.

    Weak league competition gives Barca the luxury of being fresher and more prepared for Champions League action.

    Today United stunk and Barcelona played a strong game. But this game was not indicative of who United are. I’m not ready to declare Barcelona the greatest team ever, by far.

    But they did win, so congrats to them.

  13. harry says:

    Jeff, essentially the same Barcelona team beat United twice. You don’t lose to the same opposition twice and argue that both times it was because United played poorly. Maybe the other team is so good that they make you look poor.

    Everyone keeps harping about how poor La Liga is compared to the EPL. The top sides in La Liga are better than the top sides in the EPL. I watch both leagues weekly and while the bottom sides in the EPL do cause more problems for the top sides it is mainly because of the defensive tactics employed. In La Liga every team plays open, attacking football. That’s the culture there.

    In a one-off match anything can happen. However, today we saw just why the EPL’s best isn’t nearly as good as La Liga’s best. Once can be a fluke, but not twice.

    • Nick says:

      I hear this argument again and again and it’s still garbage.

      Barcelona are unequivocally the best team in the world, they could beat any team in any league.
      Man United vs Real Madrid? Who Knows, I can see either winning that.

      That said, teams like Manchester City, Chelsea, and Arsenal could all still compete with Real Madrid and give them a game. The EPL is far far more competitive than La Liga, there’s whole 20 point gaps between Second and Third, Third and Fourth and so on, teams finish the season with less than 20 points, that rarely happens in the EPL.

      And save the “Teams in La Liga play open attacking football” crap, we’re talking about the league that provided us with El Clasico 2, 3, 4 & 5. Not to mention some of the lower league sides in Spain play just as negatively as Stoke City used to.

      Finally, cause this seems to be the most frequent argument – Yes, the best of La Liga are better than the best of any other league in the world, but that doesn’t make La Liga the best league in the world. That’s 1, maybe 2, teams out of 20, to say that makes it the best league in the world would be akin to saying Transformers 2 was a great film cause it had 1 or 2 good action scenes. It’d be like saying that the Emmys got all the choices right this year, because you agreed with a win or two. It’d be like sayin John McCain won the 2008 election, cause he won Alaska. You can’t just take what you like and dismiss the rest, you have to compare the collective whole and La Liga is nowhere near as competitive, strong or exciting as the EPL, sorry.

  14. Tommy says:

    I cannot believe that United couldn’t take advantage of Mascherano playing as a central defender. Yes, Mas-pucking-rano in the middle. What a joke this United team is and everyone kept calling them a great team, even as good as the treble-winning team. Bollocks! Champions League final of the decade? Bollocks again. This United side is way overrated, had one of the worst away records in the league and were not very convincing in many a win.

    Manchester United did not do the EPL proud tonight. Maybe no EPL team would have been able to against this Barcelona side. But please can we stop this nonsense about how good this United team is.

    • Devils Advocate says:

      Tommy..Nobody, and I mean nobody has ever said the current crop of players were anyway close to the lauded treble winners of 99. The stats in the EPL show their weaknesses and inconsistencies.

      I doubt any team could have handled Barcelona last night. They were simply at the top of their game with sublime passing and execution. United’s midfield was simply outclassed in so many ways.All Barecelona’s goals could have been prevented with a more savvy midfield quintet in my opinion.

      But it’s easy to sit here and pontificate on the rights and wrongs tactically. I do feel there were errors in team selection & tactics but I don’t think we should kid ourselves we know more than pros in the game.

      I am proud of one thing though. Both teams played in the spirit of the game with no play acting on either side. It was a great advert for football though my heart sank, knowing we might have improved in the intervening 2 year period. I think we did…but so too did Barcelona and it showed.

  15. Jake says:

    Tactically annihilated in three out of four finals and out-thought by Avram Grant for half of the other.

    Greatest manager in the world ?

    &%$£ off !

  16. Quincy says:

    What a masterclass performance by Barca. Love watching such wonderful football. United were second rate all match long. I’m not surprised at the result as I never thought this United team was really that good. I didn’t share in the hype.

    Now it’s on to the even more important match of the year, Swansea vs Reading in the playoff final on Monday. Looking forward to seeing Swansea play their good stuff which they are capable of. I hope the occassion doesn’t get to them. It would be terrific to see a Welsh club in the EPL. Here’s hoping for a thriller on Monday.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Same here Quincy (regarding all of your above comments). There’s been quite a bit of confusion regarding which channel which show the Swansea vs Reading game, but it’ll be on Fox Soccer Channel at 10am ET on Monday. Looking forward to it (to say the least). It’s one of Swansea’s biggest matches of their 99 year history. Let’s hope they can win Monday and to celebrate their 100th year anniversary in the dizzying heights of the Premier League.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • Don says:

        Gaffer,

        So I know you have the ear of the FOX executives..I have a picture of the 2nd half (non)coverage of the CL final here in Minneapolis which was shown in a small box due to severe weather. Can I send it to you and have you pass it along as an example of why they should keep the CL Final on FSN on Fox Soccer Channel. It’s a disgrace..not only were they calling the game the “World Cup” they were gloating about how there was no way they were going to exclusively cover the game and that we should not bother calling in or posting on Facebook to complain. They could care less about soccer so they shouldn’t be showing the game…

  17. SoccerLimey says:

    Terrible article.

    To lambast United’s display does not do justice to how good this Barcelona team is. This has to be one of the finest team performances I’ve seen in over 40 years of watching football all over the world. They were simply tremendous.

    You’re discussion about United’s so-called incompetence does not give credit to Barcelona’s ability to not just control the ball, but control their opponents when they don’t have the ball. United were just not good enough. Ferguson knew that before the game began and he tried to prepare for the Spaniard’s not being 100%, but on the night, it was men against boys.

    United are possibly the 3rd or 2nd best team in the world right now, but the rest are so far behind the best that this might be the status quo for the next several years.

    A very poor piece of writing, Gaffer.

    • The Gaffer says:

      SoccerLimey, sorry you felt that way, but this is a Premier League blog so I focused on the article more on Manchester United than Barcelona. Yes, the performance by Barcelona was incredible. I praised them in the article and called them arguably the greatest football team of all time. What more do you want me to say?

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • SoccerLimey says:

        I think you started off OK but then you laid into United as if it was their deficiencies that were the main storyline. You missed the point.

        United were completely controlled just as most teams that played Barcelona this year were, but there was NOTHING they could have done with the players they have. I’ve been a United fan since my days on the Stretford End, and trust me, Barcelona would have made any team in the world look bad tonight.

        Premier League blog or not, I think this site deserves a more accurate and meaningful report than that.

        Sorry, just my opinion.

        i

        • The Gaffer says:

          Barcelona were the deserved winners but United could have played better to make it a closer game. Barcelona would have still probably won based on how they played today.

          Focusing on United’s deficiencies today shouldn’t be construed as the only reason United lost. Barcelona prevented United from playing their normal game, but United made far more mistakes than usual.

          Cheers,
          The Gaffer

  18. Quincy says:

    Gaffer, it should be some spectacle if Swansea do win. As you said it is their biggest match in their 99 year history. I’m not a Swansea supporter but will be cheering for them as I have seen them play some terrific football this season and would also like to see Swansea get into the EPL for the first time. Reading has already been there.

    I’m glad the match is on FSC at 10 AM. Looking forward to spending Memorial Day watching the match. Let’s hope it’s memorable.

  19. King says:

    Manchester United were MESSICRED!

    Lionel Messi is the best footballer on the planet right now. He is simply amazing.

    Manchester United looked like a pub team out there. What a gulf between the two teams.

    I thought Alex Ferguson said he had learned from the previous defeat to Barcelona. If anything this was an even bigger domination by Barcelona than the last time.

  20. Smokey Bacon says:

    This Barcelona team would wipe the floor with any rest of the world XI. Nothing Ferguson or anybody could have done. End of. I’ve been watching football for forty years and the only team that comes close to this lot is the 1982 Brazilian world cup side. Not even Fox’s dumbed down coverage could spoil the joy of watching a masterclass of total football.

  21. Dave see says:

    Full kudos to Barca on being best club team in the world–there is no dispute there. And also major kudos to both teams for clean play. But my goodness–I still can’t stand the way Barca play. The goals are fantastic but the other 89 minutes are a complete bore. I really like to see both teams playing. I can only hope that when this team breaks up, another generation of this style hasn’t taken hold because I’ve had enough of the Barca/Spain national team. Me basta ya!!!

  22. Nani says:

    “In the battle between the best team in the world versus the best manager in the world, the best team won.”

    2009: Play Giggs and Carrick in midfield, get completely dominated.

    2011: Play same players, expect different result. Another European tactical masterclass from Fergie. Best manager in the world? Definitely not. Best manager in the EPL, yes. Big difference.

    • El Tri 2014 says:

      Pep best manager in the world? He trots out Messi, Villa, Xavi and Iniesta…how ‘effing hard can that be????????????????

      • Mark says:

        It’s harder than it looks.

        First of all, a manager isn’t just about field tactics, it’s also about player mentality and getting the full potential out of every player. Messi wasn’t that great until Pep showed up.

        Second of all, the tactics used by Barcelona in the second half was rather unorthodox compared to their usual game. Barca usually plays short balls into the penalty box and do 1-2s until a close goal is scored. In the CL final, Barca passed around in midfield/wings until a man is free up 20 yards away from goal, and repeated fired at VDS. I counted around 7 shots in that exact same spot in the second half alone, 2 of which went in (Messi, Villa). I’ve rarely seen Barca do this.

        This can only be contributed to Pep’s excellent read of the game, noticing weakness and exploiting it.

  23. Kevin says:

    Giggs was totally out of his element both in 2009 and 2011. Ferguson the genius thought Giggs would be able to cope with his off-field problems. Imogen that!

  24. Sean says:

    I do not know about the Barcelona being the best team in history but, they are clearly the best team in the world today.

    It would be interesting to live in a dream world where one could watch the likes of Real Madrid from the late 1950s, Ajax and Bayern Munch from the 1970s, Liverpool from the late 1970s and 1980s, AC Milan of the late 1980s and Barcelona’s current side.

  25. Gary says:

    Buck Farcelona

  26. Cricketlover says:

    The best team definitely won. United were just overwhelmed and just had no clue what to do when they had the ball. The scoreline actually flattered United.

    Since Ferguson has been manager United have won two CL finals and in both they weere lucky to win. In 1999 Bayern were by far the better team but for the last 10 minutes. Tactically Ferguson’s side was seen wanting. Ferguson did not get the better of Avram Grant’s Chelsea and if not for John Terry’s slip the outcome might have been different. In both losses to Barcelona United were totally outplayed. Embarassingly outplayed I believe. Ferguson had absolutely no idea what to do or change in both matches. Ferguson has been one of the best managers in the EPL but he has shown himself to be lacking tactical awareness in Europe. For me Clough and Paisley were better managers than Ferguson. I am aware that some would argue otherwise.

    While I enjoy the tempo and up and down tactics employed in the EPL, I have also come to enjoy the patience, movement and dribbling prowess exhibited by teams like Barcelona. Some EPL supporters think it’s boring. Not me. It’s a pleasure to behold.

    Now that Barcelona are champions of Europe we should be turning our attention to tomorrow’s Championship playoff match between Swansea and Reading. I hope it’s a cracking affair as there are some really bright, young prospects on both teams but especially Swansea. Personally I’d like to see Swansea win so that they can become the first Welsh club to make it into the EPL. They have also been better than Reading this season and based on their position in the table should be favored to win. If the youngsters of Swansea can get over the nerves of this big event we could be in for an entertaining match.

    Gaffer, are you planning a thread on the Swansea – Reading match? It definitely deserves one.

  27. MNUfan1991 says:

    “In both losses to Barcelona United were totally outplayed. Embarassingly outplayed I believe. Ferguson had absolutely no idea what to do or change in both matches.”

    Did you watch these matches or did you just read the reports on some team blogs?
    You are entitled to your opinion. You are not entitled to make up facts to back them up.

  28. Hi to all,

    As an aspiring football writer and recent applicant to the writing team on this pretigious blog, I would like to share the link to my review of the Champions League Final found on my domain at
    http://www.footydaily.com/simply-the-best-team-ever

    this is by no means an attempt to one-up the guys here in EPL, if anything I am just looking for feedback and to get my foot in the door of the industry in which I have such a passion for.

    many thanks!

  29. Chris Machin says:

    The home of football was a location befitting of the occasion. The greatest football club competition in the world reached it’s climax yesterday evening at Wembley Stadium, England.

    The European Champions League Final, in the English National stadium, in front of 80,000 spectators and with the world watching was the perfect combination for a Saturday night meal… the additional extra flavouring just so happened to be arguably the greatest sporting team ever assembled.

    I understand that this is the boldest of statements to make. Thinking of great sides who were utterly dominant in their profession to the point that they became ‘untouchable;’
    The 1972/73 Miami Dolphins who went an entire season undefeated en route to winning the Super Bowl
    The New York Yankees who currently hold a dominant 27 World Series chamionships in the baseball world.
    The Australian Cricket team that ripped through world cricket in the 1990′s and 2000′s winning three World Cups in a row
    The Wayne Gretzky inspired Edmonton Oilers that won four Stanley Cups during his reign with the team between 1979 and 1988
    The British mens rowing team and Sir Steve Redgrave that won 5 Olympic Gold medals in a row between 1984 and 2000

    And even the 03/04 ‘Invincible’ Arsenal side that won the English Premier League having gone undefeated throughout an entire 38 game season.

    I would even dare to declare, that the current Barcelona side, who have completed a Spanish League and Champions League double this season have done so with such swagger and brilliance that they are better in the execution of their trade than Muhammad Ali ever was at his boxing peak.

    I cannot possibly find any other description and superlatives to describe how Barcelona have gone about their business this campaign, than to belittle these other MAJOR sporting achievements. Such has been the class; the elegance, the fluidity, the style, the substance and the production of this untouchable footballing masterclass.

    The way in which they dismantled Manchester United, one of the best footballing sides in the world lead by the most succesfull manager of all time, was true poetry in motion.
    For Barcelona to slay their closest competition and most genuine rivals in the manner in which they did, in their own country, is a feit which is incomparable to any I have seen before.

    Sir Alex Ferguson, the most cunning, the most futile of managers. A true footballing tactical genius, who has overcome the odds time and time again for the best part of 5 years. Even he could not pool together all of his experience and nouse and mastermind the downfall of the mighty Catalans.

    United’s gameplan proved effective for 20 minutes or so. They hassled and hurried Barca, closed them down quickly and gave them little time to set their craft in motion. But it was just like picking a lock in the end. Barcelona are so versatile that they adapt to any situation, like a Lion patiently stalking it’s prey, they let United have their way early on – all the while the cogs were whirring, taking note and working out the best way to counteract United’s setup.

    The mind wonders if Pep Guardiola ever pre-plans for a match. United woud have spent countless hours watching footage of Barcelona, trying to figure out a game plan and an effective way to stop them doing what they do so fruitfully. This is seemingly impossible. Barcelona are a footballing machine, they have an answer to every question.
    This is evident in their methods in last nights game. They let Manchester United execute their plan in the early stages of the game. Whilst Barcelona studied it and constructed their own game plan on the field as the game flowed, lulling United into a false sense of security and then began to disect them piece by piece – unstoppable, untouchable.

    Finals in any sport across the globe have the sterotype of being more often than not dull affairs. Contested between two teams who cannot be seperated, the game is played out in a tight and tense fashion and usually settled by a scrappy goal or set piece as two teams of equals strive to cancel each other out.
    Yesterday evening kicked tradition right where it hurts. Three stunning goals, each involving countless passes, untrackable movement and the crispest of finishing highlighted the frightening gulf that lies between world Football’s number 1 and 2.

    Victor Valdes, Dani Alves, Eric Abidal, Javier Mascherano, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Pedro, Lionel Messi and David Villa take a bow!

    FC Barcelona looked distinctly ordinary for the best part of 25 minutes… and then they got the ball. Like a first-time mother they caressed it like a new born child, then like a miserable neighbour they never gave it back.

    The rest as they say is history. . . but this footballing dynasty will be the future for many years to come.

  30. Ivan says:

    A telling comment from a BBC reader at the article “Can Fergusson ever climb Barca”:
    I hope as many Scottish, English, Welsh and Irish youngsters watched the beauty of Iniesta, Xavi and Messi last night. That is how football should be played and showed how real quality, phenomenal passing and cool heads will normally win through. A reality check for those that think the Premiership is the epitome of football – its not, and it holds back all the UK international teams.
    —–
    Gaffer: I believe 3 weeks ago you made the most delusional, disturbing, sickening statement made by a “pundit” : that you would watch Fulham/Stoke rather than Barca-Real…how could I read another “comment” by a “pundit” who made such a statement?

    I know you have your agenda, and the blog, and everything, but yesterday was more than Barca humiliating ManUtd. It was a statement of FOOTBALL; of how the beautiful game should be played. It was a rejection of the talenteless, “honest”, football played by Carrick, Rory Delap, and other such misunderstandings.
    In fact, looking back to the most recent World Cup and Euro winners, the Germany of Dieter Ailtz and Bierhoff of 1996 was the last talentless, “honest”, anti-football team to win a major trophey.
    Do you get the “hint”, Gaffer, and all other deluded souls on this blog?
    France, Brazil, Spain (Greece aside as this was a lesson in tactics by Otto), Italy…what do they all have in common? First touch, creativity (Zidane, Baggio, Fat Ronaldo, Xabi, Iniesta)…
    Tell me more about how good a coach Tony Pullis is; how England is a legitimate favorite to win the next Euro/World Cup w/ Rooney, Lampard and Gerrard…tell me.
    Again, I appreciate and watch the Premier League. I am “cursed” to be a Liverpool supporter (a whole different topic), but the sheeprish denial of the facts and articles on this blog of the Prem as the beginning and the end have got to stop…
    Again, the author of this blog stated that he would rather watch Fulham than Barcelona. Barcelona: the team that is more than a club, the team that epitomizes FOOTBALL at its best…

    • The Gaffer says:

      Ivan, I can’t remember which match it was (it may have been Fulham vs Stoke, but I think it was a different game), but yes — I would prefer to watch that than watch a debacle of a game like Real Madrid versus Barcelona. That was one of the worst games I’ve seen in my 34+ years of watching the sport.

      If I had a choice of watching Fulham or Barcelona, it would depend who Barcelona was playing against. If it was Barcelona against a team in La Liga, I would probably take a pass since the games are so one-sided that they’re boring. But if it was Barcelona against a European powerhouse, I would watch it in a heartbeat.

      I have no agenda. I just share your opinions and beliefs.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  31. Jason says:

    Gaffer, you obviously haven’t watched enough La Liga. Barcelona vs Sevilla, for example provide some of the most incredible football seen anywhere. Even Espanyol vs Barcelona, local derby, is terrific to watch. Lots of other examples but these two fixtures are usually a must-see.

    Outside of the top 4, the EPL does provide more excitement and surprise results than La Liga. There is the occassional surprise in La Liga too. Hercules, promoted but now relegated again, beat Barcelona this season.

    If you don’t like pass and move football with patient buildup then I can understand not preferring to watch La Liga.

    • The Gaffer says:

      I’ve enjoyed watching Barcelona vs Sevilla in the past, but Sevilla haven’t been as dominant this past season.

      Espanyol against Barcelona I like. Definitely a tense derby. Reminds me of Everton vs Liverpool.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  32. Cricketlover says:

    MNUfan1991, yes I did watch all 4 of United’s CL final matches. These are my own opinions and not someone else’s. We obviously saw the matches differently.

  33. Troy says:

    I couldn’t help to think what would have happened if Shalke had somehow got past United in the semifinal. Possession might have been 90-10 and Barca may have scored 10.

  34. Tim Lovejoy says:

    Who would have thuoght that Arsenal would show more balls playing against Barca this year?

    Then again, just look at the two team midfields in the final: its not even close.

    Barca is a very good team but honestly, Im not too impressed by their keeper, a solid (but not great) defence and the forwards are a rotating cast which isnt better now than when Etoo was scoring.
    Where Barca is out of this world is midfield.
    How many teams have ever had the THREE finalists for POY award on the same squad?
    The 3 Amigos and Busquets can not be matched by any fantasy team you can write up.

    Put that midfield up against the inferior ManU one and why are we surprised?

    United is on par with them in goals, defence and forwards but its like 1st and 3rd divsion when it comes to the midfield.
    I think you could change Barca’s 7 other players and keep the 4 midfielders and still have a dominant team.

    How can you not be the best team when you have the three best players in the same midfield (which has different impact than had they been akeeper, defencemen and a forward)? Messi is at the receiving end of the tikitakas and as a goalscorer is the focal point but Iniesta, Xavi and even the underatted Busquets (who is technically and tactically gifted) are just as important. If Iniesta wasnt holding the door for Xavi, he would be recognized more than just a hangeron.

    Lets not forget that Xavi and Iniesta didnt miss a beat when Messi isnt with them on national team duties.
    This in no way takes anything away from the Leo Messi genius but Im not so sure Messi would be Messi on AC or Real or Chelsea.
    He has been playing one way since he was 11 and the tikitaka is were he shines the most.

  35. Didsbury chap says:

    Maybe Rooney dropped too deep after 10mins, Maybe the Vidic and Rio pressed too high at the back, Maybe Berbatov should have been on the bench? All in all though, the better football team won.
    As a Man United fan, im gutted but by no means bitter. We’ll be back up there next year, happy for now to be 2nd best team in Europe and the greatest team in England. One love, United.

  36. SoccerLimey says:

    No end of head scratching and mulling over Saturday’s final will change waht is clearly front and center. Barcelona are the standard to which future teams will be held to, and the question is whether they themselves can maintain this high level of play.

    There is nothing to suggest that they won’t continue this way as it is clear that this happening, for want of a better word, is not a one-off occurrence, but the culmination of over 30 years of dedicated hard work from a club that refused to waver from it’s beliefs.

    We may never see another performance like this, and if not, I’m sure clubs all over the world are, at the moment putting plans together to figure out how they can emulate this type of success.

    http://www.soccerlimeyinamerica.com/?p=2266

  37. toddmintz says:

    And the way Berbatov was treated by Alex at the end of the season and who should have started a final of this magnitude, I would not blame him if he demanded to leave in the summer. Ironically it was Rafael who played maybe the best of the back 4. Evra and Vidic were huge disappointments. I worried Michael Carrick could not hold his end of the bargain like last time vs Barcelona. Manchester needs some help up front next year, maybe a Peter Crouch as a super sub someone like this. It is time to see if in house they can develop some new talent. Seems like Alose, Ravel Morrison, Cleverly and Danny Walbeck would hope to have a chance to be included in the first team more next season. Bring in another defender and one more experienced Central figure in the event Paul quits. I do not think we need major changes, but some tinkering

  38. marilyn cherfan says:

    heheheh anwayss barcelona still the best team evaaaaa in the whole world and we just won 3_1 : pedro messi villa ur the bestt and i would like to say :hard luck 4 all man united players and fansss

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