Mesmerised by the sheer brilliance of Barcelona, who made Manchester United look what they are not (ordinary), Pete Sixsmith calms down long enough to reflect with gratitude and admiration on the Champions’ League final …
Long time readers of my ramblings may remember me drooling over the Spain team that walked away with Euro 2008. My particular favourite was Andrea Iniesta and I though that team was as close to perfection as you would get.
Cancel that statement, because I, and millions of others, have just witnessed a team performance that will be remembered by those who saw it as long as Real Madrid’s demolition of Eintracht Frankfurt has been by those of an earlier generation. The Barcelona side that summarily dismissed Manchester United in the Champions’ League Final is, without a doubt, the finest club side in history.
I sat and watched in wonderment as Iniesta, Xavi, Alves, Messi etc. made United look like an average Premier League team like Sunderland do when faced with a rampant United side. United fans will now have an inkling of what it is like to support an inferior team.
Barcelona really are a special team. The ball is not given away. Accurate passing is expected, nay demanded, at all times. When the killer ball comes, it is a killer ball and usually produces a chance. A fabulous night of footbal …
You can see traces of their style in the way that Zenden, Malbranque and Sessegnon play their football. All three of them will look for a short pass and want it back in order to continue to build. Or, they will keep hold of the ball. They do not want to give the ball away cheaply.
Unfortunately, in England, the maxim is “If you give it away, get it back quickly”. Cattermole, Henderson and Meyler are good at this and cover huge amounts of ground to retrieve situations that they themselves have created. I don’t see Xavi or Busquets doing this.
If Barcelona took more than one long corner, I missed it. Nearly every one was played short to allow players to move into space and to make life difficult for United, who are used to defending corners that rarely pass the first defender.
So many lessons to learn. Of course, the likes of Messi and Villa are fabulous individual players and clubs like ours can never attract that kind of quality. But what we can do is to start to think like Barcelona: “if we have the ball, the other team haven’t. Don’t give it away.”
A staggering performance that will live long in the memory. I expect to see it replicated at Turf Moor on the July 30. Or it’s “Bruce Out” from me.