Between the Lines

"Of all unimportant subjects, football is the most important" – Pope John Paul II

Match Report: United 0 Barcelona 2

Posted by hakanrylander on May 28, 2009

It’s no disgrace to lose to a side like Barcelona. But what really disappointed me last night was that Barcelona won comfortably without having to be at their best. Instead we witnessed what can only be described as a mental collapse of a kind I never thought I’d see from a team managed by Sir Alex Ferguson.

It started well enough. The first nine minutes looked exactly the way I wanted them to, with United pressing high, beginning to create chances and both Rooney and Ronaldo starting in a confident mood. Park even came close to scoring from a rebound. Then in the tenth minute the game was turned on its head when the United midfield did what they must have been under orders not to allow under any circumstances; they gave Iniesta time and space to run at the defence.

The goal seemed to drain all confidence from every United player. Within  minutes Vidic, Carrick and Anderson had all made school-boy mistakes, and this set the pattern for the rest of the game. From now on United more or less stood around admiring Barca, while feeling inferior.

Guus Hiddink was widely criticized for negative and physical tactics against Barcelona in the semi-final, but last night I soon found myself longing for some physical tactics. If only to prove that we cared about this game. When at last we got physical it was in a reckless way when Scholes came on and lunged into a tackle that deserved a red card (but only got him a yellow). I never thought I’d miss Darren Fletcher as much as I did last night.

Finally, even though I’m disappointed with United I have to give full credit to Barcelona. They were the better team by a mile. And if you love football you have to admire the passing of Xavi and Iniesta as well as the wonderfully executed header by Messi.

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