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Rome 09: Barcelona 2-0 Manchester United – A Footballing Lesson

Posted by Keano! on May 27, 2009

All the build up midweek, all over the world was tipping Manchester United, the holders of the Champions League and English Champions, but how could we have got it so wrong? Barcelona handed us a footballing lesson and surprisingly it doesn’t pain me to say, well done Barcelona, the new European Champions, and winners of the Spanish treble.

It was the dream final according to everyone, it was the dream performance by Barcelona but a nightmare of a display from the “White Devils”, who didn’t shed a tear after the game as they all simply knew they hadn’t shown up and were consequently beaten by a better team, who by the way were missing 3 of the preferred back four.

Ferguson opted for a 4-3-3 style of formation with Rooney and Park out wide tucking back to settle at 4-5-1 on occasions with Ronaldo up top on his own. The midfield was where United were simply destroyed with the trio of Giggs, Anderson and Carrick in particular poor form.

What a start made by United, and it saw early chances flash their way most notably a fizzing Ronaldo free-kick which was parried right into Ji-Sung Park’s path, but the Korean was unable to tap the ball home and get United off to an unbelievable start as Gerard Pique, ex-red got back in time to bundle the ball away for a corner.

Truthfully, Barcelona’s first attack first spell in possession ended in disaster for United as the Catalan’s took the lead. Wonderful passing in midfield from Iniesta and co. after a loose Carrick header allowed the magician to slip in Samuel Eto’o who checked back on Nemanja Vidic who could only watch as Eto’o cheekily clipped the ball past Edwin Van Der Sar on his near post. It was completely against the run of play, but what followed from that moment was a horror show in all honesty. This was typified moments later when Vidic conceded the cheapest corner with a poor back pass.

United never really got into the game from there with Barcelona defending superbly nullifying the threats of Ronaldo and Rooney whilst completely picking captain Ryan Giggs and Brazilian Anderson apart in midfield who simply never showed up for the holders. Half time and a much needed break with Ferguson was required.

Not trying to make this seem like it happened at lightning speed, but after the second half started, Henry forced Van Der Sar into a good save and then Xavi hit the post with a lovely free kick on the edge of the box all before United had seen the ball. The introduction of Carlos Tevez for Anderson at the break did improve the intensity from United as the man who may well be leaving chased down absolutely everything.

Some sort of passing was established by United after those scares with Rooney, Ronaldo, O’Shea and Tevez all doing rather well. Rooney threatened a few times with crosses and the plan should have been, get the ball to Rooney and let him try and cross because each one produced a possible chance. The best of these fell to Ryan Giggs who saw a low Rooney cross come his way but the Welshman scuffed his shot and Valdes was out on an waiting Ronaldo to smother any chance the man spearheading United’s attack on the night may have had.

Sir Alex threw Berbatov on for Park and the Bulgarian’s languid style of play may have been wonderful about an hour before he came on, because at this stage, it was a little more effort and passion which was required.

During a rare spell of pressure from United, they were caught on a counter which led to Barcelona snatching a magnificent second goal. The speed of the counter was fantastic and after Giggs had a limp effort to clear the danger in the box, Xavi steadied himself, dinked a magnificent ball into Messi and the 5ft 7” wonder kid and Champions League top scorer added to his tally as he some how managed to head the ball back across goal and past Van Der Sar who had no chance with that one.

It was time for Fergie to go all in on a bluff as Scholes replaced a disappointing Giggs and United’s discipline grew thin with Ronaldo having a personal battle with Carlos Puyol and Paul Scholes flying in on Kieta when the ball was long gone – both were cautioned by a referee who it has to be said had a very good game. Often referees are slated after games, but when they have a good game, they should be noticed.

United had the odd break with Berbatov wasting a good chance from a corner but nothing magical was to be witnessed this time round as we had to simply bite the bullet and accept a defeat.

It was all too much for us, the disciplined Barcelona defence, the pace of Messi, the poor showings from United and the tension in the air. Sir Alex was visibly dejected after the game after being beaten by a manager in his first season. Speaking to SkySports, Sir Alex said,

“I think the first goal was a killer, the first attack they had they scored and that was a bad start to the game for us,” Ferguson commented.

“We started brightly too, very confident but we got a little nervous after that of course and when they have a goal they can keep the ball all night and we just didn’t have enough.

“We has some good half-chances in the second-half, and we perhaps should have done better – but in fairness we were beaten by a better team.

“We weren’t at our best, but after the first goal it was hard for us.”

He explained that Barcelona simply were too good and he couldn’t change the game in United’s favour,

“I brought on Carlos Tevez, I took the gamble with two through. We needed somebody to drop in,  they defended quite well and we could have got at their back four better than we did,” he continued.

“That is the best part of the game, in adversity you always move forward, we are still a good team and can move forward,” he said.

And that last part is right. Better loose a Champions League final against a team who completely outplay you then against a team who you dominate and loose to on a dodgy decision. This will stand our younger players in good stead, like Rooney for example who will learn from this game and move on like Sir Alex said.

Player Rater

Edwin Van Der Sar – 5

John O’Shea – 6

Rio Ferdinand – 6

Nemanja Vidic – 6

Patrice Evra – 6

Anderson – 4

Michael Carrick – 5

Ryan Giggs – 5

Wayne Rooney – 6.5

Cristiano Ronaldo – 7

Ji-Sung Park – 6


Tevez – 5

Berbatov – 4

Scholes – 4

Stats Centre

Barcelona Stats Man United
2 Goals 0
1 1st Half Goals 0
7 Shots on target 2
4 Shots off target 7
1 Blocked Shots 2
4 Corners 7
7 Fouls 10
1 Offsides 5
1 Yellow Cards 3
0 Red Cards 0
87 Passing success % 82.9
18 Tackles 21
72.2 Tackles success % 82.9
52.7 Possession % 47.3
55.3 Territorial advantage 44.7
Well done Barcelona, European Champions 2008/2009

Leave comments on the game, your player ratings and any other things you wish below in our comments area.

3 Responses to “Rome 09: Barcelona 2-0 Manchester United – A Footballing Lesson”

  1. MUNchester said

    Good review of the game. I think anderson is not ready for scholes replacement, yet.
    Iniesta and Xavi is make us realize how we missing the “general” in the midfield .

    Anyway congrats to barca , they deserved the cup.

  2. When I first saw 4-3-3 on United’s lineup, I could only imagine in horror… But Barcelona played good football and Xavi’s assist was exquisite.

  3. Maurice Quinn said

    Good write up. Far better and more balanced than any journo would write.

    Barca deserved it on the night and it showed in the final score line.

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