Wembley, 28th May 2011
With hype that this would be Alex Ferguson’s chance for redemption on one hand and Barcelona’s chance to cement their credentials of being the best team in the world, this mouth-watering clash was just what the neutrals ordered to bring a close to the football carnival in Europe! With the raw force of Rooney guiding united to their 3rd final in 4 years and on the other hand the mesmerizing skills on Messi Who has out done himself my scoring goals for fun!
With as many as 220 million television viewers watching the epic final that offered different styles of play pitted against each other. With the flamboyant possession football that starves the opponents played out by the Le Marcia grown players and with United’s fast paced counter-attacking style that has taken down so many in the past and Octopus Iker tipping United to win had the Spanish fans in a little bother, with Alex Ferguson with one eye on the record books and other on the tactical style of Pep Guardiola’s wonders. It seemed an Ideal finish to a season that threw so many surprises such as Schalke, Gareth Bale etc to name a few.
When the whistle was blown by the referee to kick-start the final it seemed that Barca neatly got into their passing routine in the early stages but to the surprise of many United were eager to close their opponents and paid of with United coming up on top in the opening 20 minutes or so. But Barcelona gained a grip on the game and were rewarded a goal by Pedro who was picked out beautifully by Xavi in the 27th minute. United were on the back-foot but kept their defense organized with Vidic putting in vital tackles in. In the 34th minute a swift move on the right flank and neat inter-play saw Rooney equalize with a shot into left top corner! The half came to close with a deadlock between the sides.
The second half saw the usual passing proves of Barca and in the 54th minute with Messi finding a little space to play around in front of United’s box fired a thunderous low shot that beat Van der Sar to his left, thus scoring his first goal on English soil! With Barca having full control on the game at this stage Alex sent Nani to improve his attack but Messi with a lighting move on the right side skipped passed Nani and got into the box to put the alarm bells ringing. The ball found its way to David Villa who curled a beauty into the top right corner leaving Van Der Sar no chance thus sealing the clash for good!
With the final whistle the game, saw the Barca players erupt in joy which saw them do a double with the league and the champions league for the 4th time in their history. United on the other hand lamenting a chance lost to add to their trophy cabinet!
“They do mesmerize you with their passing. We never really controlled Messi, but many people said that. We never really closed the midfield well enough to counter them. It’s alien to us to try to man-mark players. We tried to play as normally as we can. In my time as a manager it is the best team we have faced. No one has given us a hiding like that” said Alex Ferguson after the game.
Pep Guardiola said “I didn’t see the Ajax of Cruyff, I didn’t see the Real Madrid of Di Stefano and I didn’t see the Santos of Pele. But if in 10 or 15 years time people remember us for the football that we are playing now, that will make me very happy. If you play this football you need these players. At another club may be I would have problems. I feel privileged to have these players. My future will be very tough as I’ll be at another club with other players, thinking ‘where are these kinds of players?’ “.
It was a final played in great spirits between the teams and it will be interesting to see what future battles between the teams holds for us!