Barca’s ‘beautiful’ game wins them the Champions League

Barcelona, inspired by the peerless Lionel Messi, delivered a soccer masterclass to overwhelm Manchester United 3-1 in the Champions League final

FP Editors May 29, 2011 02:42:59 IST
Barca’s ‘beautiful’ game wins them the Champions League

Just how good are Barcelona? Think up the best you can come up with, multiply it by two and you’ll still be way short of their actual potential. Because that’s how large the gulf between them and the others really is.

Another passing masterclass helped the Spanish giants give Manchester United a hiding that they won’t forget anytime soon. The Champions League final was built up to be a great contest but it just turned out to be another showcase for the genius that is Barcelona.

For much of the game, United could do little but hang on for grim life. The final score was 3-1 but it could have well been 5-1 or maybe even 6-1 for such was the Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona’s dominance.

Barcas beautiful game wins them the Champions League

Barcelona beat Manchester United to win the Champions League. AFP/Lluis Gene.

Manchester United have won four out of the last five Premiership titles but on Saturday, they looked like school children in a playground – running all over the place, chasing the ball, desperately trying to get some time with it.

However, when it began, for the first ten minutes, the Red Devils dominated. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side was unbeaten in this season’s competition and had only conceded four goals, all at Old Trafford. They were not opponents to be trifled with.

Then, suddenly Barcelona kicked into gear. For the next 15 minutes, United were given a football lesson. Short quick passes opened United up, caught their defenders out of position and when a through ball from Xavi found Pedro Rodrigues free on the inside-right channel at the edge of the box, United knew things were just about to get very bad.

Pedro made no mistake to score his 22nd goal of the season and fifth of the Champions League. It was a sublime move -- simple yet cutting edge -- and it was typical of Barcelona.

By the 30th minute, Barcelona had completed 235 passes, almost a 100 more than United. And even as the Spaniards continued to dominate, Wayne Rooney got one back for United.

It came out of nothing. A scrappy passage of play along the right and the ball suddenly found it’s way to Rooney, who rolled the ball to Gills in the penalty area and finished the return pass with great composure.

Giggs might have been slightly off-side but Barcelone chose to not create a fuss. They just carried on playing.

At half-time, the scores were level. But United were under the gun and one look at Ferguson’s face would have convinced you that his team was in for a bollocking. It seems that’s what happened because United were out really early at the start of the second half. Barcelona, arrived, relaxed and ready to roll again.

Almost instantly Barcelona took charge again. After 54 minutes, Messi scored the second goal for his side. United gave him too much space and he let one fly from 25 yards. It surprised everyone in the stadium, goalkeeper included. It was brilliant.

But if that was brilliant. Then David Villa’s goal in the 73rd minute was pure art. Messi started the move with a mazy run to the United area and by the time the ball got Villa, he was at the edge of the are and in space. He took his time, a good first touch, and curled the ball into the top-right corner. It was Barcelona’s 98th goal in all competitions this season. That’s 98 for you.

After this Manchester United just didn’t see the ball. Barcelona passed it all over the pitch -- short passes, long passes, touches – everything you could think of and they were unstoppable.

The one thing that stood out about this game was Barcelona’s humility. They are the best side in the world by a distance but all they want to do is play the beautiful game as it’s meant to be played. They play because they love the game and it’s reflects in their football. There can be no higher praise than this.

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