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Player Ratings: Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United

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Jonathan Stevenson | 07:30 UK time, Friday, 27 May 2011


Barcelona are the new champions of Europe after a spectacular 3-1 victory over Manchester United at Wembley on Saturday.

Pedro's opener was cancelled out by Wayne Rooney, but second-half goals from the magical Lionel Messi and David Villa earned Barca their fourth European Cup.

Here's how the Barca and United players rated on the night:


Edwin van der Sar - 5
Made a couple of decent saves, but should have done better with the first and second goals. Sad way for the 40-year-old to bow out of football.

Fabio - 6
A brave pick by Sir Alex Ferguson largely justified. Produced a mature display and did not get much help from Antonio Valencia down the right. Hobbled off with a calf problem.

Patrice Evra - 5
Pinned back into his own half for most of the game, the Frenchman had his hands full defensively. Stood off Messi as he fired in Barca's second.

Nemanja Vidic - 6
Stayed strong in the first half to stop wave after wave after Barca attack, but eventually the onslaught proved even too much for the Serb.

Rio Ferdinand - 6
Was wrong-footed by Messi a few times as the Argentine gave him twisted blood, but it's hard to criticise anyone too much for coming off second best in that battle.

Michael Carrick - 5
Played marginally better than he did in Rome two years ago, but again was no match for Xavi and Andres Iniesta. Mostly a passenger.

Ryan Giggs - 5
Gave the ball away too often, which is suicide against this Barca team. Tough ask for a 37-year-old, and his first real failure of the season.

Park Ji-Sung - 5
In the team to give United energy, he failed to deliver. Couldn't stop Dani Alves marauding down the right and didn't counter-attack with any conviction.

Antonio Valencia - 4
Another hugely disappointing display. Was given two big tellings off by his manager in the first half but failed to improve. No threat going forward, no help tracking back.

Wayne Rooney - 7
Looked frustrated for much of the game, but took his goal quite brilliantly to show his undoubted class on the big stage. Kept going right until the end too.

Javier Hernandez - 5
Looked like the occasion might have been too big for him. His touch was not assured as usual and link-up with Rooney almost non-existent.


Luis Nani (on for Fabio, 68 mins) - 6
Came on at 2-1, but it was immediately 3-1 and had few chances to get involved.

Paul Scholes (on for Carrick, 77 mins) - 6
Threw himself into a couple of challenges, but no time to impose himself.


Victor Valdes - 7
In truth, didn't really have much to do. No chance of saving Rooney's goal, but United could not get close enough to Valdes to test him in the second half.

Dani Alves - 8
Gave Barca boundless energy, never stopped running up and down the right flank and showed some deft touches too. Outclassed Park.

Eric Abidal - 8
A monumental performance from the left-back only two months after undergoing surgery on a liver tumour. Had Valencia in his pocket.

Gerard Pique - 7
Unflappable as always, Pique had little to do and had the best view in the house as his team-mates put on a masterclass of attacking football.

Javier Mascherano - 8
Considered a risk at centre-half before the game, the Argentine started off shakily but grew in stature and before too long looked like he had played there his entire career.

Sergio Busquets - 9
If all eyes were on his behaviour, he was impeccable - and his positioning, tackling and distribution were world-class too.

Xavi - 9
The man for the big occasion, Xavi was immense. He constantly probed away for gaps in the United defence and his pass for Pedro's opener was stunning. Must have eyes in the back of his head.

Andres Iniesta - 8
The little maestro with the electric feet was also at it again. The odd stray pass apart, Iniesta was untouchable - and United could not get close to him.

Pedro - 8
Pedro's currency is goals - and he did not disappoint. Became the first Spaniard to score in a European Cup final for Barca and has an uncanny knack of grabbing crucial strikes.

David Villa - 8
Moved from a central position to wide on the left early on and threatened with a couple of shots before curling home a splendid third in the second half to wrap it up.

Lionel Messi - 10
A performance worthy not just of the world's best footballer, but one of the greatest that has ever lived. Irresistible all evening, United couldn't get anywhere near him, as they proved by giving him the freedom of the park to score Barca's second.


Seydou Keita (on for Villa, 86 mins) - 6
In any other team in the world, the superb Mali midfielder would start every game.

Carles Puyol (on for Alves, 88 mins) - 6
The club captain, their heart and soul. Unlucky not to start, but will enjoy every minute of the triumph nevertheless.

Ibrahim Afellay (on for Pedro, 90 mins) - 6
Dutch winger got a few seconds - probably as thanks for teeing Messi up to score their first in the semi-final first leg in the Bernabeu against Real Madrid.

Higher or lower? Tell me whether you agree or disagree with these marks, either by posting a comment below or by getting in touch with me on Twitter @Stevo_football.


Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    Congratulations to Barcelona. The best team, by some massive considerable distance, won the game. and as i predicted in an earlier post, without breaking too much sweat.

  • Comment number 2.

    Here here. Barca's one potential weakness, Masch in defence, turned out to be a strength! Valdez had little to do but was very quick off his mark on a two occasions where a slower keeper would have given ManU a scoring chance. Wonderful touch for Abidal to pick up the trophy - mes que un club!!

  • Comment number 3.

    3-1 could have been 10! Barcelona took their foot off gas after 3rd goal! Messi fantastic! Second only to Maradona now in my opinion.

    But I still suspect there will be the usual numpties who say Messi couldn't do it against Stoke lol

  • Comment number 4.

    Barsa superior in every department, it should've been 5-1 to reflect their dominance on the pitch

  • Comment number 5.

    I almost agree completely Stevo. Thought Valencia had the worst game of his life and deserved a 2. Messi was magical.

  • Comment number 6.

    Maybe people will stop praising Valencia now that they've actually seen him play. Talk about Emperor's new clothes. Nani should have been on from half time, we needed to attack them straight away. Just shows have overblown the Premier League has become.

  • Comment number 7.

    Vidic cost United on the Messi goal; he was not quick enough to respond. SAF needs to get more speed on defense. Of course, Barca just the better team and better coached. Alas.

  • Comment number 8.

    Thought Park and Vidic were better than you give them credit for, Ferdinand was pretty poor.

    Valdes was a bit shaky in terms of communicating with his defence, Pique I thought was immense especially when distributing the ball and so was Abidal.

  • Comment number 9.

    Barca were wonderful. Its hard to be too critical of Man Utd - they were simply outclassed in every area. Could easily have been 4 or 5 nil tonight.

    Wonder if we'll see anyone on here telling us about how Barca only bang in goals cause La Liga is so poor? Or suggesting that Messi's OK, but how would he cope on a cold february night in Stoke?

  • Comment number 10.

    Overall I agree, but I think a 5 is a bit harsh for Van Der Sar. He cheated right a bit on Messi's goal, but hard to fault him on goals 1 or 3.

  • Comment number 11.

    Messi a 10? Can't disagree with that, I believe he is THE greatest footballer to have ever graced the game and a part of the greatest club side to have ever graced the game. Incredible.

  • Comment number 12.

    bacca the better side think its time united got rid of its older players and brought in some new blood giggs was below parr looked very tired they now need to build a team for the future to many players past their sell by date

  • Comment number 13.

    I think you pretty much got it spot-on, Stevo - Barça were irresistible. How Valencia escaped a booking is beyond me.

  • Comment number 14.

    Carrick-passenger. exactly. The man couldnt grab hold of a game if his life depended on it.

  • Comment number 15.

    Tactically Ferguson got it wrong again. Seemed shell shocked and didn't know what do to alter the game. Why was Valencia still on the pitch after an hour? Or Giggs? Manager rating 4/10

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    This Barcelona side is one of the best ever. Now they have to win 2 or 3 CL titles in a row to be THE best. Next year, I think only Real Madrid will be able to prevent them from winning the CL again.

  • Comment number 18.

    Well I thought Sir Alex would serve up a lesson for Mourinho. It turns out Mourinho's ugly tactics is the only way to fight this Barca team

  • Comment number 19.

    Valencia did get a booking in the end but could have had 4 or 5 on another day, no-one seems to have told him use of the arms isn't allowed when shoulder-barging.

  • Comment number 20.

    The marks for Man U are higher than they deserve. Valencia was lucky to stay on the pitch after several hacks at Barcelona so I woul give him 3 at best. Apart from Rooney's decisive strike they were made to look very ordinary.

  • Comment number 21.

    Some truths:
    1. United have been flattered in the PL this season by Chelsea and Arsenal who have been rubbish
    2. SAF has often lacked the tactical edge needed (see lucky win in 1999 when Munich out thought them for 85 mins)
    3. The best footballers are not over 6 foot athletes and as a result the PL is not the best league, see average height of Barcelona
    4. First touch, Barcelona players have a brilliant touch as opposed to the 6 foot athletes in PL
    5. If Guus Hiddink goes to Chelsea, they'll win the PL next season

  • Comment number 22.

    Barca define football. Fact.

  • Comment number 23.

    Looks like Lineker was right: If Barca show up they win. Man Utd played bad, but that's they're own fault. If you don't show up you lose, no exceptions no excuses. Their only goal was made from an offside assist, and Valencia was lucky to stay on.

  • Comment number 24.

    Oh btw, La liga made to look average because of Barca's quality. They could have banged in 6 or 7 against Man U today. Teams like Chelsea, Man City could have been thrashed 5 nil by Barca even in their sleep

  • Comment number 25.

    Fully deserved from Barca. Have to disagree completely with at least two points though:

    1) To state Valencia had "another" disappointing display is disgraceful. He has been superb for the club, and it just looked like his sudden return from injury caught up with him tonight.

    2) To call Busquets' behavior "impeccable" is also laughable. He waved an imaginary yellow card to ask for Valencia to be booked, went down 3 or 4 times for no reason, and wasted almost 2 minutes writhing around on the floor clutching his chest when no contact was made.

  • Comment number 26.

    VDS - 2
    Age looks to have finally caught up to him. Poor first goal, getting beaten near post (again) and caught completely flat footed for the second. Then make a few saves but it was too little too late. Also very poor distrubition with most of his kicks going out of play.

    Fabio - 6
    Did well defensively, only one or two minor mistakes - did make a few runs forward to give Barca some problems but was largely kept back.

    Evra - 4
    Only made the odd drive forward but defensively all out of sorts. Dragged away by Messi for the first goal, failed to close down the second and was just generally awful.

    Vidic - 6
    Couldn't go much for the goals, came out of defense to stop Messi once or twice but still had problems dealing with the false nine role. Made a few key blocks and tackles.

    Rio - 6
    Did fine, once again made some key tackles to stop 1v1 vs the keeper situations.

    Carrick - 6
    Did well to keep the ball moving and tried to keep possession but ultimately was over run by the Barca midfield. Not helped by Giggs.

    Giggs - 5
    Was largely a passenger for the first half, assist aside. Made more of an impression out wide but by then looked tired. Should have been subbed circa 50min or at half time.

    Park - 6
    Pressed well and was his usually energetic self but still lacked the technical ability to help out in attack.

    Valencia - 3
    If he hadn't made so many fouls I wouldn't have noticed him on the pitch. Why was he not subbed?

    Rooney - 7
    Had too much to do to make up for some other poor performances by his team mates. Great goal, some nice passing, occasionally tried to do too much.

    Jaiver Hernandez - 5
    Too isolated up front and the long balls up to him didn't seem to suit his style. Pique got to every long ball first.

    Sir Alex Ferguson - 3
    Claimed to have learned what went wrong in Rome but clearly hadn't. Sub Ronaldo for Javier and you have the same tactics. Long ball up for him to chase, ball is intercepted by Barca and they attack again. Was given a life line for half time but squandered it, surely he realised that midfield needed more support? Valencia was woeful and Giggs was struggling. Either Fletcher was fit enough for 45mins or he wasn't fit enough at all. Owen for Berbatov? If he thought Owen was going to get us back into the game should be need more firepower why didn't get use him? Poor use of subs just as in Rome.

  • Comment number 27.

    fair enough ratings, I'd maybe give rooney more - how much better could he have played in the situation he was in? The whole 'how would barca handle a cold night in stoke?' is a moot argument. Barcelona will never have to play such games, and so have no reason to develop a team with that in mind. They have adapted perfectly to the demands of the spanish and champions leagues.

  • Comment number 28.

    Man Utd fan. I can go on about ifs and buts (e.g. defence bunching and completely forgetting pedro for 1st goal) but really, my heart said we'd do okay, but my head said we were always going to probably get beaten. No shame in it though, this Barca side is now one of the best sides ever and have got Messi - our executioner tonight - who is one of the best players ever too.

  • Comment number 29.


    Busquets' behavior was impressive given his usual antics. I rarely saw his dives honestly, and I'm one of Barca's most harsh critics when it comes to their play-acting. And yes, time wasting is horrible and is a bad tactic, but if you see there was contact and Nani is prone to acting like someone tore off his legs when someone clips him.

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 31.

    Where are all the Man U fans tonight? They talked the talk before the game, pity they can't come on here tonight to give Barca the credit they deserve. As to the player ratings, you could easily knock 2 points off each Utds players scores. Happy days!

  • Comment number 32.

    spot on im team in EPL played off the park but lets not start banging on about la liga, no one else in that division comes within a 100 miles and dont forget 3rd plce team 30/40 points back. Its one amazing team, not an amazing league....

  • Comment number 33.

    Utd were simply outclassed. Strangely like the 2009 game with an intense 10 minutes at the start then nothing (apart from Rooneys goal).Barca had won the mental game before the match even kicked-off. I think a player like Andy Carol would give Barca more trouble than Rooney or Hernandez. Someone who can catch the long-ball and then flick it on.
    The formation also made it a little easier for Barca, 4-5-1 would have made it harder for them to dominate the midfield in the way they did.

  • Comment number 34.

    A game to savour : Barcelona were magnificent for the umpteenth time. Greatly pleased to see yet another slap in the face for all those - and there are a depressingly high number of them - who think Barcelona and Messi are overrated.

  • Comment number 35.

    Hernandez - 5
    Is that the amount of touches he got on the ball ?

    @25.At 23:06 28th May 2011, Tipperary_Red
    Busquets"wasted almost 2 minutes writhing around on the floor clutching his chest when no contact was made"? Maybe its because I have HD that i could see some 14 stone guy landing knee first in his chest , but then again I'm a neutral so maybe its not the HD .

  • Comment number 36.

    i think la liga is a poor league and messi wouldnt cope on a cold feb night in stoke. just joking best team won it was no contest realy. i think we can count ourselves unlucky 2 have come up such a great side in the last 2 finals poss the greatist club side of the last 30 years

  • Comment number 37.

    I thought at least Giggs tried to be creative with his distribution and looked to be the only one apart from Rooney who looked even remotely capable of doing anything. and FYI he wasn't substituted, that was Fabio. Not impressed.

    Hernandez was at first attributed with the assist in the online commentary too and then corrected but Giggs was still referred to as the Mexican haha. An even worse performance by you boys!

    The only way any team could have gotten close to Barcelona was to kick and foul them like the Dutch did to the Spanish in the WCF. Congratulations to United for not resorting to those tactics!

  • Comment number 38.

    we should feel fortunate to witness football of such standard. This Barca team is amazing group of talented player. Messi is simply the best.

  • Comment number 39.

    A very talkative "DontTrustTheGovernment".
    Your obviously a supporter of one of the "failed threesome" i.e Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.
    I'm a Utd supporter and I give credit where credits due. Barca were the better team on the night however one win and two runners-up in 4 years is not a bad return. Better than some other teams I could think of.

  • Comment number 40.

    I don't know how to validate the above Man U. player ratings - how can you when they hardly saw the ball? I will say that Carrick was virtually invisible for the whole game and Valencia's contribution was minimal at best. Easy to say from my armchair in hindsight but surely Nani's ability to hold the ball, dribble and distribute would have been more successful than Valencia's somewhat one dimensional pace-n-cross game. Additionally a true five-man midfield rather than 4-4-1-1 with Rooney slightly withdrawn might have enabled United to cope better but how do you choose Fernandez over Rooney and also deal with only having one outlet up front?
    But it's all coulda-woulda-shoulda really because... how on earth do you stop Barca? How is there ALWAYS someone to pass to? How do you get the ball off them and then keep it? Etc. etc. etc. It's all been said before.
    I have neither any answers nor any response other than to doff my proverbial hat to the best team I've ever seen. Congrats to the extraordinary FC Barcelona.

  • Comment number 41.

    @32 last 8 times that Premier League teams have played La Liga teams in knock out stage they have lost. Not all those games have involved Barcelona!

  • Comment number 42.

    About right, but I don't think Messi was a 10. His goal should have been saved, and I think it was more of a team performance than that, Barcelona were brilliant all over the pitch.

    Also though Evra was Utds best player, dealt with his man well and looked motivated. Rooney was good, but I hate how annoyed he gets, its such a weakness in his game. He needs to learn how to channel it like the greats do, and keep a clear, composed head.

  • Comment number 43.

    I thought Giggs was impotent.

  • Comment number 44.

    wondering whether there ever will be a team, after this Barca team, in coming years. It is pleasure watching FOOTBALL, everytime Barca plays. Kuddos to them.

  • Comment number 45.

    Look, I respect that Barca should've won on the performance, it's indisputable. But Messi rated 10? 7 at best.

  • Comment number 46.

    "Maybe its because I have HD that i could see some 14 stone guy landing knee first in his chest , but then again I'm a neutral so maybe its not the HD ."

    Maybe you should supplement your HD with Sky+ so you can go back and watch such incidents again. Valencia (well under 14 stone I'm guessing...) ran past him and his leg clipped Busquets' shoulder. Busquets writhed around clutching the lower section of his chest. No complaint about the result, but the quality of Barca as a team shouldn't deflect from any criticism of Busquets' attitude on the pitch.

  • Comment number 47.

    Also agree that it was good to see the game played in the right spirit. Not much diving at all really, I was really worried the Catalans might try and wind Rooney up but they just played good football instead.

  • Comment number 48.

    Well, i dont know if am blind but the best player for Man u today was Valencia.He was Physical and that is how you play against close on them and that he did perfectly..guys that is modern football..Carrick was very bad, probably the worst player on the pitch today...But still i don´t underrtand why Fergy never brought on Anderson and Scholes after an hour of play..Scholes is just a genius and you could see it when he came in

  • Comment number 49.

    As a United supporter,I was disappointed with them.It was the repeat of 2009 once again.I agree it could have been 6or 7 goals for Barca.Even SAF was frustrated by the way United were dominated and you could see him screaming at Rooney on the touchline.I thought Van De Sar and Vidic were the only players who showed up.Nani should have been on the field much sooner....and what about Berbatov?

  • Comment number 50.

    Edwin van der Sar - 5
    Fabio - 6
    Patrice Evra - 5
    Nemanja Vidic - 7
    Rio Ferdinand - 6
    Michael Carrick - 4
    Ryan Giggs - 5
    Park Ji-Sung - 7
    Antonio Valencia - 4
    Wayne Rooney - 7
    Javier Hernandez - 5


    Luis Nani (on for Giggs, 73 mins) - 5
    Paul Scholes (on for Carrick, 77 mins) - 6


    Victor Valdes - 7
    Dani Alves - 7
    Eric Abidal - 7
    Gerard Pique - 7
    Javier Mascherano - 7
    Sergio Busquets - 8
    Xavi - 10
    Andres Iniesta - 9
    Pedro - 8
    David Villa - 9
    Lionel Messi - 9

    Seydou Keita (on for Villa, 86 mins) - 6
    Carles Puyol (on for Alves, 88 mins) - 6
    Ibrahim Afellay (on for Pedro, 90 mins) - 6

    As predicted the game was won and lost in midfield with Xavi and Iniesta in complete control. Carrick and Valencia were particularly poor for United although Rooney, Vidic and Park gave a good account of themselves. Had the rest of the team performed as well as them the game may have been a little more competitive although the managers tactics didn't help the team at all. Giggs and Carrick weren't able to win or hold up the ball when they did get hold of it. Messi had a fine game but it was far from his best. He may be the best player in the world right now (or possibly ever for that matter) but a goal scored down to poor defending and goalkeeping does not give him a 10 rating in my eyes. Congratulations to Barcelona are due though. There can be little shame coming runners up to the greatest team of all time.

  • Comment number 51.

    Watch La Liga on Sky, much better skill level. United won an average PL this season. Lulled into false sense of security. united fans underestimated David Villa, he's been a top player for years.
    My wife thinks SAF is not a very nice man

  • Comment number 52.



    1. AC MILAN
    3. AJAX
    6. BENFICA
    8. CELTIC
    10. HAMBURG
    12. JUVENTUS
    17. PORTO

  • Comment number 53.

    Best Team Won! ... Carrick had about 25 passes - 20 of which were BACKWARDS to VDS .. - !
    Michael Owen - unused Sub .. £31mil Berbatov ( EPL Top Scorer ) - Warming the dressing room up ---
    Valencia passed the ball to Xavi more times than he did to any of United Midfielders and still managed to play 90 minutes..
    Chicharito was flagged off side more times than Inzaghi got his whole career and still managed to play 90 minutes .. WHY ? .. because OWEN was the only Striker on the bench that could replace him !
    Abidal has no pace ... Suffered Cancer ... Been out for about 2 months .. and is over 30 and yet NOT ONCE did Valencia go past him .... ... NANI - Uniteds Player of the Season came on to replace a Right-Back with 20 minutes to go...

    I Think It Is Fair To Say Fergie Got It All Wrong Just Like In Rome Where We Had Tevez Warming Up The Bench !

  • Comment number 54.

    Maradona's remembered for the 'hand of god'

    I think Messi will be remembered as a 'gift from god'! Amazing.

  • Comment number 55.

    Your comments on Van der Sar are a bit harsh. Barca were far too good for Man U no cheating needed, Man U could not cope even with eleven players on the pitch. Thought Barca could have destroyed Man U with a cricket score had they not contented themselves with just the three and just concentrated on keeping position, Man U were lucky tonight not to loose more heavily, even their goal should not have stood.

  • Comment number 56.

    United fan here. All the talk of tactics and the fletcher/hernandez debate/fergie getting his tactics wrong - Load of rubbish. There is nothing you can do to stop Barca when they plan to their abililities. I'm gutted, but sometimes you just have to hold up your hands and admire this very special Barca team.

    Only wish we had a proper go for it when we were 2-1 down.

    How far have Barca come since we beat them in the CL semis in 2008?? Phenomenal.

  • Comment number 57.

    Gutted, wrong team, wrong tactics......really expected a lot more from United. Gutted.

  • Comment number 58.

    At 23:15 28th May 2011, IanM wrote:

    A very talkative "DontTrustTheGovernment".
    Your obviously a supporter of one of the "failed threesome" i.e Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.
    I'm a Utd supporter and I give credit where credits due. Barca were the better team on the night however one win and two runners-up in 4 years is not a bad return. Better than some other teams I could think of.


    Two comments don't add up to talkative in my book. It just makes me laugh that before the game Utd supporters were so full of themselves about the outcome of tonights game when anyone with an ounce of footballing knowledge knew that Barca would make them look very, very ordinary - and that's exactly what happened. Utd have been ordinary all season and an ordinary team will never beat barcelona.

  • Comment number 59.

    Congratulation FC Barcelona. Playing beautiful and winning as well is commendable.

  • Comment number 60.

    Did United only have 1 attempt on goal? How many off the goal? I can't remember any. Zero?

    I hope that people in England give Barcelona the recognition that they deserve. This is a team which makes attacking football defeat defensive football. Destructive football is a 100 times easier than creative attacking football. Besides, Barcelona do their defending in midfield, and nulify the attacking options of their opponents.

    90 minutes against Arsenal and another 90 against ManU and the combined shots on goal from two of the EPL giants was 1? One?? Hats off to Barcelona.

  • Comment number 61.

    Sorry, dont agree that Messi was a 10. There is no one member of a team bigger than the team itself and Messi can only play like he does because he has such a good team around him. He played well, but not worthy of a 10.
    The best TEAM won the match and taught Man Utd a few lessons, namely how to play football.

  • Comment number 62.

    I have a question for all the Man Utd fans saying that Fergie got his tactics wrong: What did you want the poor sap to do? Do anyone of you really believe that playing Fletcher or Nani would've made that big a difference against a team that dominated you so badly that you barely made 7 attempts on goal?

  • Comment number 63.

    Ample proof of Fergie's tactical and team selection shortcomings in Europe - again. Park and Valencia are simply not good enough at this level, and never have been.

    Why fire long balls up for Hernandez when he is clearly not a player who can take advantage of them? This was a game crying out for Berbatov, but Ferguson didn't even have him as a sub!

    With Giggs and Scholes, Fergie is simply repeating the mistakes he made with Keane - they should have gone two years ago. They are to old for a fast-paced game.

    I'm afraid Beckham, Ronaldo, and Van Nistleroy have never been replaced.

    Good against the Premier League rubbish of Blackburn and Villa is one thing. Barcelona and Real are an entirely different matter.

    As for all the nonsense about Messi - especially the drivel from Souness - has everyone forgotten Cryuff? Maradona? Best? Pele? I never thought I'd say it, but Rednapp stood out as a beacon of sense and proportion in the Messi debate. Well done Jamie.

    Fergie? You've worked wonders, but it's time to go.

  • Comment number 64.

    There wasn't much Ferguson could have done to be fair. The players at his disposal were not good enough to prevent Barca dominating the midfield - which is where they won the game in Rome and tonight.

    Messi was magical but do not underestimate all the hard work that goes into winning the ball and presenting it to him to do his damage in the final third. Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets are central to Barca's philosophy of pressing and using quick passes to transfer play from one end to the other. Messi provides the icing on the cake they bake. It's rare and delicious icing but he'll be the first to acknowledge what his team-mates do to make what he does possible.

    People who wonder why he doesn't do the same for Argentina should look at who he plays with for club and country and they'll find the answer. This team is still young and will dominate for years to come. Guardiola deserves immense credit. He has got the better of master tacticians like Mourinho, Ferguson and Wenger so early in his career and will only get better. It's a sobering thought for rival teams but great news for the game.

  • Comment number 65.

    I'm sorry but the most important player on the pitch tonight was Xavi, not Messi. Messi was immense and looked as if no-one could ever get the ball off him, but Xavi dictated the tempo, style and direction with which Barcelona were playing.

    The Spaniard played passes quietly and effectively all evening and I think only lost the ball once, at a push twice, consistently exploiting gaps that probably wouldn't have even been noticed by any other footballer on the planet. Xavi's vision always goes unnoticed and unrewarded, and I think it's time the Spanish maestro got the recognition he deserves - it's just almost impossible to get that when you're playing alongside probably the greatest player of the last 20/30 years.

    Messi dribbled with the ball as if it was stuck to his feet, and managed to thread balls through to his team-mates as if Man Utd weren't even there. At times it resembled a training match, where Barcelona were simply just enjoying themselves. The point is, although Messi was influential throughout and was allowed to shine, without the guidance and control of Xavi, without him dictating the flow and general pace of Barcelona tonight, I just wonder how well Messi would have played and how much freedom he would have found. I'm pretty sure Xavi was the reason Messi played so well, as well as the rest of the team.

    Park had a good first half but then for the second 45 minutes Man Utd decided to ignore wide-play - against a narrow in the middle Barcelona - and try direct, at times route-one football (albeit with over-the-top through ball attempts). Against the giant Pique - who was dependable throughout - it was never going to work. Valencia ahead of Nani was always a risk in my mind, as Nani has much more about him in terms of the big game performances, and the Ecuadorian was lucky to escape without a couple of bookings. On the whole the only player who seemed to want to play football was Wayne Rooney, and even he didn't display the kind of tenacity or passion that has become almost synonymous with his name.

    Alex Ferguson needs to shoulder a lot of the blame here, as he left out his top goal scorer and performer - if somewhat apathetic - Berbatov. A personal altercation must have erupted, but you wonder, if Ferguson wasn't so proud, may the result have been different? It's a big claim to say Berbatov would have changed the game completely, but at least he could have had Hernandez on the bench. Solksjaer anyone? Ferguson lacked impact players in a game where he would almost definitely need them. How he managed to miss this point is beyond me, especially as this guy is fantastic in this department and has been around enough to know what to expect in such situations.

    This Barcelona team have showed tonight exactly what they are capable of, and just what it takes to beat them. One of the greatest ever teams? I'm only 24 but I'd put it out there that they surely have to be considered. Let's not forget this Man Utd side are extremely disciplined, energetic and full of determination, as well as being regarded as the second best team in Europe. And what did Barcelona do? Made them look like schoolboys. That's how good this Barcelona squad are.

    I'd agree with the ratings, although I'd stick my neck out and say Park deserved a 6, Xavi a 10 and Messi a 10, with Xavi just edging it in terms of importance to the rest of the team due to him being the 'orchestrator' or 'composer' right in the middle of the park. Let's not forget this guy was the stand in captain tonight and boy did he perform. Puyol would have been proud, and I'm sure the rest of the team will feel he did a fine job running the show.

    Good reading of the game, but I feel Xavi's contribution was yet again underappreciated and undervalued. What must this guy do to get some recognition?

  • Comment number 66.

    United got off lightly considering how they were totally outplayed. I think most of us who were saying before the game that Barça are brilliant and United not nearly as good as they and some others in England think they are, have been fully vindicated.

    I believe Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs or Liverpool would have given Barça much more to think about in a one-off match on virtually home turf. Ferguson didn't seem to have any strategy for dealing with Barça's midfield and Messi in particular. Nani coming on late, no Berbatof on the bench even?

    Sir Alex can only blame himself for getting it so tactically wrong. To be fair he hasn't criticised the ref this time which is hardly surprising given Valencia's several bookable tackles and Rooney's goal from Gigg's off-side position.

    The truth is that 6-1 would have been a fairer reflection of the play.

  • Comment number 67.

    Brilliant game, i really enjoy watching Barcelona play the game, outclassed United. When i saw the team sheet and how they were lining up said no chance. The central Midfield has to be packed out with class, Not giggs and Carrick with Rooney filling in, awful. It was at times embarrasing. It was due time a team showed United for what they really are, its been to easy at times this season domestically, no team stood up to be counted and played like they can. At last no more nonsense about how fantasic this team is.

    Oh and the player ratings spot on. Im glad i live in an era watching a football artist, Messi.

  • Comment number 68.

    fpr arguments sake, where are those that say the PL is better in actual football than Laliga? I've always maintained that in marketing and finance the PL leads the way, but what about where it really matters; football played on the pitch?

    If we swapped Barca with Real Madrid, the result would have benn the same, and if we swapped ManU with Chelsea, it would have been disastorous.

    Its nice to see SAF lick his lips as he gets thrashed once againg by a young Pep Guardiola, i hope they meet again next year for another thrasing, although the match might be a bit boring

    Great hurah to FC Barcelona

  • Comment number 69.

    The people moaning about Ferguson's tactic's are being incredibly naive. In all honesty there was nothing he could of done with the players he had to of outplayed Barca. Barca are streaks ahead of them, and any other team in the world for that matter.

    And as for the argument that 'Utd should have pressed harder/been more aggressive/attacked more' - it's one thing saying it and another thing entirely doing it. You think they weren't trying? Give me a break. The game-plan was there for all to see in the first 10 minutes - lots of pressing high up the pitch, high tempo and direct play. But once Barca settled there was nothing the Utd players could do. They really are that good, and nobody should be blamed.

    Simple as that really.

  • Comment number 70.

    What the game brought home to me tonight was that the Premier League is full of overpaid foreign mercenaries. We need to nurture our home-grown talent otherwise the future of English football is bleak.

  • Comment number 71.

    Don't go blaming team selection united fans, none of your players are good enough at the moment. As I said above you beat poor opposition in PL and Schalke should not have been in the semis

  • Comment number 72.

    Some of you folk need your own Blog, Yeah the game had Berbatov written all over it, Valencia could have been better, but when players are underperforming in the first half why are they still there when the game 3:1 down. I am highly suspicious that any group of 11 players, can't get the ball off another 11. There is no team in any sport anywhere in history that can dominate the way we have see Barca do it, so Well done Barca but shame on United and everyone else for letting them do it.

  • Comment number 73.

    @70 You can't nurture what isn't there!

  • Comment number 74.


    Umm, except for a few case i.e. Lineker, Best, Beckham, Gascoigne, England's homegrown talent hasn't exactly up to the rest of Europe's standards. I've always found it strange that despite being pioneers of the game, the English have always had players that seemed to be considerably less technically talented then the rest of the worlds.

    There's reason why the best players in the EPL are foreign and not English.

  • Comment number 75.

    Where's Phil McNulty?
    He's been bigging up Ferguson and Man Utd for ages. Several blogs on these Man Utd "greats" already this week. Where is he now?

  • Comment number 76.

    Manchester United does not have a single world class mid-fielder. The only one that can manage a game from there is Scholes but he is too risky and old now. This team is well configured to win the PL by beating the likes of Blackpool, Stoke, Sunderland etc. Barring major changes this team cannot win the CL.

  • Comment number 77.

    74.At 23:36 28th May 2011, Selecao wrote:

    Umm, except for a few case i.e. Lineker, Best, Beckham, Gascoigne, England's homegrown talent hasn't exactly up to the rest of Europe's standards. I've always found it strange that despite being pioneers of the game, the English have always had players that seemed to be considerably less technically talented then the rest of the worlds.

    There's reason why the best players in the EPL are foreign and not English.


    Your general point is correct, but Best wasn't English and the others you mentioned were never at the same level of the top foreign players

  • Comment number 78.

    I'll have to repeat this. In one CL season, Arsenal and Manchester United play Barcelona and their combined effort is 1 (ONE) attempt on goal?? EPL fans, you just can not tell us that this is the best league in the world really.

  • Comment number 79.

    United players played best to their ability they offered what they had in their ranks.
    Kickball needs to be replaced with football in England.

  • Comment number 80.

    5 for Park and 6 for Vidic? What match were you watching?????
    Park 7 and Vidic 8.

    5 for Carrick was uber-generous! He and Giggs 2 out of 10.

    You give Messi 10 out of 10 because of the hype surrounding him, 8/10 or 9/10 at best. You really don't have a clue!!

  • Comment number 81.

    @46.At 23:20 28th May 2011, Tipperary_Red

    You familar with RTE?
    "88 mins Busquets irks the United players when he stays down after what looks like a minor incident, but replays show that he took a fairly hefty knee to the face. "

  • Comment number 82.

    Only certain bitter people remember Maradona as 'The hand of God', he was more memorable for being a brilliant footballer in most fans' opinions.
    Cant disagree about Messi though!

    I'm in complete agreement with your assessment. Futile to talk about team selection
    tactics or ratings re United when up against Barcelona playing to their capabilities.

    Lineker said it and really everyone knew it too. We were just hoping they'd have an abberation and that always seemed unlikely.

  • Comment number 83.

    I'd actually give Messi a 9 and stick with a 10 for Xavi. After further consideration, the Argentine's goal wasn't his best, and although he was sensational tonight, I feel it was down to Barcelona's teamplay tonight, rather than his individual masterclass being soley inspired by his own talent.

    The truth is, Messi is allowed to and encouraged to flourish in this Barcelona side, and that's probably the most exciting fact, because this guy is just starting to come into his own, and I'm very certain that his best is yet to come.

    Argentina need to create a team to go with Messi and compliment him, rather than see him as their saviour. Look at Spain. They have made Torres look average for the majority of his international career, and have always had the mentality of a strong collective unit.

    Barca's midfield epitomise that psychology, with Iniesta, Busquets and Xavi all putting in tremendous performances tonight.

    Messi is the guy running at the players; Xavi doesn't need to move - he's that good.

  • Comment number 84.

    McNulty's taking his time with his article, he really needs to check he doesn't make an absolute *** of himself

  • Comment number 85.

    Barça were clearly better in all departments. It has been clear for a couple of years now that they are a special team. Xavi and Messi were unbelievably good again tonight.

    As for United, Evra, Carrick, Giggs, Valencia and Chicharito were awful. How all four of them were still on the pitch after 65 minutes, only SAF can answer because it certainly wasn't for their input.

  • Comment number 86.


    To be fair a lot of journalists have over-estimated the quality of this United side. The Premier league is not that good at the moment and United were let's say "the best of a bad bunch" at home.

  • Comment number 87.

    The only way ManUtd stood a chance tonight was if they had played cricket instead but at football not a chance, not two years ago and certainly not tonight, the gap between these two teams is now bigger

  • Comment number 88.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 89.

    I think its a bit harsh to blame Van Der Saar for the 1st and 2nd goals. For the 1st he was facing a top class forward who had all the time in the world. Pedro shaped to go across VDS (as every coach in football would tell him to) and then popped it in at the near post once VDS bought the feint. As for the 2nd, Messi got far too much space and time (hardly VDS fault) then hit it early (a nightmare for goalies) and even then I think VDS was unsighted.

    I do think VDS will not be happy with the goals he conceded, but they were hardly howlers.

  • Comment number 90.

    There wasn't much Ferguson could have done to be fair. The players at his disposal were not good enough to prevent Barca dominating the midfield - which is where they won the game in Rome and tonight.
    To combat Barca in midfield, teams usually take away a striker perhaps the answer is to take away a defender because Messi does not play as a normal striker the back four cannot do anything until his is running at them thats too late.

  • Comment number 91.

    In general, I have no quibble with your player ratings. But if we include the managers for assessment, I’d give SAF a 5 and Pep an 8.

    SAF is too outdated, only great in BPL where other managers are too awe-struck to show that they can learn, adapt, innovate and finally compete ably to defeat ManU.
    Arsene showed promise when he first arrived from Japan but he soon reverts to minimalism like the rest. Then came the Special One, Jose and did well but not to the satisfaction of his employer and soon departed.

    Thanks to Pep Guardiola, my faith that there is youthful dynamics in football is reinforced. SAF thought well with tactics that include shackling Messi and disrupting the flow of Barcelona’s tiki-taka. But Pep responded in the 2nd half with his players’ taking goal shots from outside the box with outstanding results.

    Have to say this, geriatrics showed stay home and watch TV football.

  • Comment number 92.

    some good performances from Utd individuals but to be honest, how many would replace their first 11, 2?? 3 at most??? best team won, no debates, just facts...

  • Comment number 93.

    There is a great deal of sycophantic hysteria about Ferguson by BBC journalists. I think it is to curry favour with the old boy so that he will give interviews again. Its all very tiresome. I prefered the time when the when the BBC and their journalists showed no personal preference.

  • Comment number 94.

    It's just a shame that bayern Munich went to sleep for 3 minutes and terry fell over taking a pen then ferguson would have the euro titles he deserves..... None

  • Comment number 95.

    Playing without a centre forward isn't new, Hungary did it in the 1950's. In England we like our centre forwards, it makes us feel, well, English.
    I'm not a traitor but we need to accept that Sky and money make the PL what it is, not the best footballers.

  • Comment number 96.

    Would be interested to know what SAF thought he had learned from their last meeting.Very one sided.Hernandez was especially disappointing.Hadn't expected much but he provided even less.Lost count of times I heard commentator say "Hernandez offside".Their one truly class player Berbatov was not even on the bench.Was he injured? Other than match commentary was stuck with US or Canadian commentators and heard no comments on that.I think some people were tough on VDS but he did not get much support .SAF went to his workhorses such as Park and they were totally outclassed. Also Valencia had a poor bad tempered game. As expected Barcelona were the class team on the pitch but was surprised by such a huge gap.

  • Comment number 97.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 98.

    Seriously below par performances by over half the Utd team tonight apart from the undoubted brilliance of Barca. Van Der Sar, Evra, the entire midfield four and Chicarito all quite poor. It's time for Giggs to hang up the boots, Carrick clearly not good enough and Chicarito not the finished article. Good performances from Fabio and Rooney. Sir Alex should have played a more energetic midfield with Anderson in there and leaving out Berba all together was truly insulting one of your best players. Three to four signings needed.

  • Comment number 99.

    On Evra:

    "Stood off Messi as he fired in Barca's second."

    Really? So, that whole jumping in towards him with his foot up to try to block the shot... that was standing off?

    Further, why exactly did you give Barca players a 7 for "having very little to do"? Doing nothing is worth more than doing something but not doing it quite well enough?

    Really, what planet is the writer from?

  • Comment number 100.

    no. 94, a nit nasty but true


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