It was at the back of everyone’s head. We all expected them to fly the Catalan flag high again, and they didn’t fall short of expectations. If you ask me, they indeed exceeded them. Barcelona outclassed United 3-1, in what many are already considering to be the best match of this past decade.
It was United, like in Rome, who was in command in the first 15 minutes. Carles Puyol was on the bench for the Catalans, and it was expected that United would take advantage of this (all of Barca’s defeats this season have come when Puyol didn’t take part). Mascherano (standing in for Puyol) and Pique looked stretched in that initial period, but after Barca got into their rhythm (which took them 15 minutes), it was gonna be a mountain of a task for United.
United tried to employ long balls, but Chicharito was caught offline 4 times in the first 20 minutes. Barcelona took hold of the passing, and a host of chances were set off in just a few minutes. Pedro and Villa had decent chances to score.
It looked like that magical goal from Messi was coming, when the little man just made his way through the United defence, but an excellent tackle by Vidic put the ball out.
And finally, the goal came in the 27th minute. Xavi passed through to Pedro with a gem of a ball, and he slotted it home. Evra was caught out of position, unable to decide whether to go after Pedro or to play him offside.
Barcelona were surging forward tide after tide and the United defence tried to hold them back, doing only as good as any team we have seen face this Barcelona team.
Totally against the run of play, United found a way to get back on level terms. Rooney made a bullish run and passed it on to Chicharito, who passed it back to him in space and Rooney just blasted the ball into the net.
Barcelona almost went ahead again with a sweetly taken free kick, but the ball was just out of Pedro’s outstretched leg. The first half ended, with no injury time added on.
Barca continued to pressurise the United defence and the fact that both their centre half’s were inside the D box, just pays testimony.
Lots of chances and scrambled saves later, a certain Messi slotted home a typical individual effort in the 54th minute. Van der Sar, playing his last match, could have done better.
Sir Alex tried to change things and win it, bringing on Nani for Fabio, but as it proved to be, it was not to have any effect on the game. Villa curledone into the top corner in the 69th minute and it was game over for United. Barca just played the ball around, waiting for that blast of whistle. Valdes was booked for wasting time, an unnecessary tactic.
SAF once again was beaten by a superior Barcelona team, and a much anticipated final turned out to be largely one sided. Manchester United failed to exact their revenge.
Man of the Match – Xavi
Flop of the Match – Antonio Valencia, Chicharito