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Brilliant Barcelona outclass Man Utd

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Phil McNulty | 00:21 UK time, Thursday, 28 May 2009

Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Sir Alex Ferguson feared the side-effects of a trip on Barcelona's "carousel" - and he was doing his suffering in public after Manchester United were left sick and dizzy after the roughest of rides in Rome.

Barcelona's peerless midfield pair of Xavi and Andres Iniesta were the inspiration behind Ferguson's colourful christening of their passing style as he said: "I don't think they have ever given the ball away in their lives".

This extravagant claim appeared based in solid fact as Barcelona ruthlessly stripped Manchester United of their Champions League crown on the banks of the Tiber.

And as Ferguson grimly accepted the truth that Manchester United were dismantled by Barcelona, additional pain came from the knowledge that he knew what was coming and still his Premier League champions were ill-equipped, tactically and technically, to deal with it.

Ferguson's inner frustration surfaced with a needlessly aggressive response to a perfectly reasonable question about his hunger to fight back from this chastening night, but he made no excuses. It would have been folly to do so and he knew it.

Ferguson was critical of his players, labelling defending "shoddy" and admitting some big players would have been disappointed with their showings, but it was a rebuke delivered with an air of resignation as opposed to anger.

No shame in being outclassed by the best team in Europe - the problem for Ferguson was that it was Manchester United on the receiving end as opposed to inflicting it on their manager's behalf.

Picking over this defeat was hurting Ferguson. He was not used to it but on this occasion had to take his medicine. To fight United's corner in the face of such inferiority would have been futile. United were tactically bankrupt long before referee Massimo Busacca's whistle brought the punishment to a close.Barcelona celebrate their 2-0 Champions League Final win

Even the defiant, sympathetic applause of Manchester United's fans, who did their best to lift their team in a very dark hour, had a surreal tinge. It was not meant to be like this.

Manchester United were ready to embrace history in the Stadio Olimpico as the first club to defend the Champions League, but by the time Ferguson trooped into his post-match inquest it had left town.

In contrast the youthful Pep Guardiola was applauded in by elated, and highly-partisan, Catalans after a debut season as a coach that has hauled in La Liga, the Spanish Cup and now the Champions League. Perhaps Pep should retire now at the age of 38 - the only way is down surely?

After an opening nine minutes that gave false hope to all with United at heart, Barcelona had the place to themselves. The torture session was started by Samuel Eto'o's opening goal after 10 minutes.

Those of us who felt Barcelona would lack the physical presence to combat United were rather pleased with ourselves until that point. Shots in from Cristiano Ronaldo. Barca a bag of nerves. Exactly as we thought.

Eto'o's goal, courtesy of another moment of Fernando Torres-style frailty from Nemanja Vidic when faced with a world-class striker and poor goalkeeping from Edwin van der Sar, finished United.

It was as if confidence had simply been passed from United to Barcelona like a baton. Ferguson's gameplan fell apart as Ryan Giggs did not so much play in the hole as plunge through it and the deployment of Wayne Rooney on the left almost constituted an act of negligence.

The crumbling of United's edifice, there was an alarming visible decline in performance, gave life to Guardiola's inspirational decision to play Lionel Messi in a central role as opposed to out wide. United could not fathom how to deal with him and the Argentine's brilliant header simply crowned a glorious night for football, if not Ferguson.

It also settled, for now, the argument about who is the world's best player. Messi bestrode this showpiece, putting Ronaldo in the shade. Ronaldo, however, demonstrated as much spirit as anyone in a white shirt last night.

He never stopped running and his petulant late spats with Carles Puyol were borne out of frustration. Messi had help in the shape of Xavi and Iniesta, Ronaldo was a man alone.

Ferguson's own approach will be questioned and there can be no doubt his tactics failed on this occasion.

He went with the energy of Anderson and Ji-Sung Park in midfield, and while it worked against Arsenal it did not stand a chance here. Ferguson praised Park's awareness of space before the game, insisting "he doesn't need the ball." Sadly for the South Korean, this was a night when he had no choice in the matter.

And Rooney's deployment on the left, while it has enjoyed success before, is less successful against a team that denies United decent possession for minutes on end, as Barcelona did here.

It reduced Rooney to a virtual non-presence in the game, stuck helplessly on the fringes. He was eventually moved into the centre, but by then the pattern was set, the game was gone. Barcelona were ticking over and United were not good enough to turn it around.

Rooney's best work is through the middle of the pitch and this is where he should be restored next season.

United's display and defeat must be placed in context. They have won the Premier League for a third successive season and reached a Champions League final for the second year in a row. One defeat does not constitute a crisis - but the sheer scale of Barcelona's superiority will have shocked Ferguson and his players.

This tournament holds a special place in United's history and Ferguson's heart. The hurt will be especially acute on this, the highest stage.

United will regroup, rebuild and call on their reserves of resilience - but Barcelona are the best team in Europe. And, on this compelling evidence, by some distance.


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  • Comment number 1.

    No point saying that Manchester United 'did not show up' last night. You need the ball to play. They were denied ball possession by Barcelona. Halfway through the match it looked like the Manchester players had given up on trying to find the ball..

  • Comment number 2.

    United were finally found out. Too many close 1-0 wins in England hinted at a lack of real attacking flair, and Barca exposed this. A superb performance from them.

    But I'm swure Fergie will bolster his squad (Benzema, Ribery maybe) and we'll see them next year again...

  • Comment number 3.

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

  • Comment number 4.

    On footballing side, whatever people say united playing pretty football, they are in reality a long ball team, relying on pace of Ronaldo and Rooney on flanks to get the ball out and so called counter attack. Goes to prove that Barcelona played their football on the ground, no hoofs but still managed to outclass THE CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD.

  • Comment number 5.

    Utd finally found out. They won a poor premiership and it showed as they were totally out-classed by the best team in Europe. Ronaldo best player in the world? No chance. Rooney? Non-existant. Berbatov? You'd be better with me up front and I'm 4 stone over weight.

  • Comment number 6.

    Barcalona were so good, that even the pro-premiership biased pundits and journalists had no choice but to give them the credit they deserved.
    Man Utd luck finally ran out and it was about time i say.
    We have had to watch them win through luck and controversy for over 2 seasons now.
    Cristiano Ronaldo will most likely leave. He had that look on him last night.

  • Comment number 7.

    As United are my second team, I was hoping they would pull it off but United were lacklustre, non-energetic and basically a poor shadow of a team which has won so many things this season - they were simply outclassed in every department.
    It was obvious that Ferdinand was not fit but understandable why he played, Vidic as Phil McNulty has already pointed out, has a definite weakness when faced with world class strikers whilst every other United player let themselves down by their weak and poor performances!
    As for Ronaldo, in my opinion it is now time for him to pack his bags and leave for Madrid. He was interested for a short time but as things progressively got worse he resorted to fouling. If he has made his mind up that his career at Old Trafford has reached a conclusion then I can only say farewell and thanks!
    Sir Alex will be both shocked and annoyed at how his team performed last night and will now go on holiday thinking 'what might have been' but all credit to Barcelona, on the night they performed as a top team should, United didn't, end of!
    It is often said that a team's name is already on the cup and after the Chelsea match it would appear that that name was Barcelona's and they showed all who were watching that they deserved to win - Congratulations Barcelona!

  • Comment number 8.

    Pretenders to the throne?

    As the dust settles on an entertaining night of football (at least from one of the teams) the true fact of the lack of talent in the Man Utd team is shown for all to see. Even with the most expensively assembled substitutes bench in history, Man Utd were made to look anything but prospective champions of Europe.
    The plain facts are that they struggled against the best in the Premier League this season, and Barcelona are a million miles ahead of them in terms of skill levels. The likes of Carrick, Park and Anderson were just not up to the challenge and serious questions need to be answered.
    A reality check is required, and soon!

  • Comment number 9.

    Phil, Barca may be the best team in Europe but on current form they are not better than Chelsea.

    Chelsea over the two legs were the better team. They closed Barca down very efficiently in the Camp Nou and were much superior at Stamford Bridge.

    I'm not a Chelsea fan but can understand their sense of injustice. In particular the ones I speak to feel that the team get no credit for being the better side over the two legs.

  • Comment number 10.

    Hiddink showed Fergie the way, and he should have taken note, not so much in the semi-final first leg, where Chelsea were just outplayed by Barcelona, but certainly in the 2nd leg, Chelsea were tactically spot on in their attempt to beat Barcelona and created plenty of chances to win that game.

    Fergie got it wrong last night, although his players let him down as well.

    Shows what a great manager Hiddink is and how much Chelsea will miss him.

    But at the end of the day, Barcelona are a great team!

  • Comment number 11.

    Man U were out classed last night by a team that got an early goal and then managed to keep the ball so united could not play, however as with any game it would have been a lot closer if VDS and Vidic had not let them get that early goal. Chelsea made Barca look ordinary in the semi finals and they were lucky to get through. It is all ifs and buts and Barca ran out easy winners in the end, however this blog is very pessimistic. United need to get OH back to fitness, find a right back with RDS attacking flare but more defensive qualities, work out what to do with DB and they will be there or there abouts next year. They had a bad night and Fergie will be using that to his advantage next year. I think Fergies main concerns will be how Vidic seems to have fallen apart since Torres made him look ordinary during the league match against Liverpool and how he replaces VDS, his 12 game goalless streak had more to do with the defense and once Vidic's confidence was shot they have not looked the same secure unit. The second goal last night saw JOS not tracking Messi who was the only danger in the box, basic defending which Fergie needs to get back into his back 4, whoever they may be.

  • Comment number 12.

    Im glad united lost last night but the simple truth is they didnt play at anywhere near the level they normally play. Not one of their players played well whereas most of the barca players played out of their skin. Based on past performances in the competition, united should've walked it.

    However, the way barca played last night was unbelievable. They arguably should've won by more. Their passing was out of this world. Messi, Iniesta and Xavi controlled the game. Messi must've been 'his own height' off the ground when he scored that header.

    Congratulations Barca.

    (A united supporting friend of mine booked his ticket for the rome final way back in september 2008 (which I thought was unbelievably arrogant) and did not hold back in rubbing it in that united got there. Well, what do ya know? There is such a thing as Karma.

  • Comment number 13.

    Post 11 highlights the fact,

    If a team which cost about 200 million and the most expensively assmembled bench in the history is short of this postion, that position, then it say it all, does not it?

  • Comment number 14.

    It was so hilarious last night when Red Nose was being interviewed and he started coughing, the interview lasted just over a minute and the response's were cough cough cough...
    Never mind red nose your team was simply undressed by the better team..

  • Comment number 15.

    So, Alex, not one of the great European teams in history, eh?

  • Comment number 16.

    Where was the leadership on the pitch for United last night?

    Yes they were up against a superb team, but the irony for me was that only Ronaldo seemed to try and galvanise the team.

    Tevez 25m? hmmmmmmmm Berbatov.....30m!.........Rooney 27m!

    Players like these, to justify their fees and salaries, surely have to show up in big games like a CL Final.

  • Comment number 17.

    Be careful what you wish for! In December when Man United had conquered the world in Tokyo, the chant of "bring on the martians" rang out. Well, last night it looked as if football from another planet had indeed arrived and it was in a different class to what Man United could offer.

  • Comment number 18.

    I don't think its fair to criticise Ronaldo and Rooney they never got the ball, the real problem was midfield and I think United missed Fletcher and Hargreaves. They never this season have had a real ball winner like Keane in the midfield and it has showed on many occasions this season. Also myself and quite a few other United fans feel that they havn't been at their attacking best this year, possibly a sign that we need Queiroz back?

  • Comment number 19.

    Alas, case is closed. Judgement is out. Man United are a poor team with little fighting spirit. Destroyed yet again by a better side. Their fans in denial.. but nothing now can change the facts.

    All this talk of Evra (best in the world - funny!!) taking Messi into his pocket. Ronaldo being better than Messi. My goodness, if we take that game last night, we see Messi strides ahead of Ronaldo. Most of Barca's tream is better than Ronaldo. He had chance after chance after chance, and blew every one of them. Barca on the whole were fantastic - as anyone who knew football knew they would be.

    Man United have been poor. Their wins have been by one goal here and there - and often through fortunate circumstances. Clearly not the best team this year, and they certainly can't pretend to be anymore.

    The Media love to talk them up, but they and the fans were deluded. Barcelona played them off the park. Outclassed, outplayed, outmanouvered... no suprises there.

    The ONLY suprise yesturday was to see Alex Ferguson acknowledge that Barcelona were the better team. Wow!!!!! I was shocked! He must really have a jealousy-driven dislike of Liverpool. He can acknowledge that Barcelona are the better team when they lose 2-0.... but when Liverpool destroy them at Old Trafford 1-4..... !!!! No, Liverpool were not the best team then were they? Grow up man.

  • Comment number 20.

    Sadly I think one thing got in the way of United, or at least the British media. That was believing Man United had won the trophy before a ball was kicked. I lost count at the number of interviews I saw, from fans and so called experts, saying United would dominate.

    The media had focused on how "lucky" Barcelona were to beat Chelsea. How poor Barca were against Chelsea and so on. Therefore simple logic implied that the champions of England, would easily brush aside a Barca side that was missing no more than five regular players. Yes thats right, nearly 50% of the team normally play for the Barcelona 2nd team. And before Chelsea fans start up, you don't win football games unless the ball crosses the line.

    Surely it must have been in the back of the Barcelona players minds, as they climbed the stairs from the dressing room area under the main stand, that the British media and half of the United support had written Barcelona off. What better catalyst is there for going out and proving everyone wrong? This is exactly what they did.

  • Comment number 21.

    Is it just me or are Man U the footballing equivalent of Graham Hick which is to say the ultimate flat track bullies? They came up short against a number of their nearest rivals in the Premiership and embarassed themselves last night with a pitiful display. Always good comedy as well when the cameras pan the bench and we see Ferguson almost bursting with rage.

  • Comment number 22.

    Ian Wright was yapping on about everyone else not knowing anything about football and saying that Man U were superior to Barcelona and also that Nwcastle were good enough to stay up. Maybe he should move on from ommentating. United are a great team but last night was men against boys. Having said that, Chelsea had them beat if not for a Norwegian plonker!

  • Comment number 23.

    I would like to thank you gentleman for all your comments, what a laugh! I must say this makes for entertaining material!

    Such comments of arrogance since the quarter final of an all English final, this and that...


    Please continue so I can laugh some more!

  • Comment number 24.

    Bercelona 2-0 MU, MU....disgrace,Barca....shame on you!!

  • Comment number 25.

    yes, United were completely made look like school boys from the 10th minute to the final whistle by "the best team in Europe". But lets all just remember, had it not been for the most unjustly refereed match in recent memory, it would have been another team and not Barcelona playing in Rome last night.....most likely, by United's poor display, to similar results.

  • Comment number 26.

    why didn't Ferguson bring on Howard Webb? He'd have turned it around second half.

  • Comment number 27.

    Maybe it suggests that The Premiership isn't "the best league in the world" after all.

  • Comment number 28.

    I think the media are hilarious. Expecting us to take their punditry seriously. Before the game it was;

    'These two amazing teams', the 'best in the world', the 'greatest players', 'both teams have winners and awesome footballers.'

    After the game, which is a one off by the way NOT an entire, damn season;

    'United are way behind', 'Barcelona from a different planet', 'United crisis', 'This is why they lost.'

    Absolutely pathetic sensationalism. Just grow up. Barcelona shouldn't have been in the final and yet everyone is saying that, based on a final performance, it is justice that they are champions of Europe. Tell that to the Bridge. If United had played against Barcelona like that (i.e. if Fletcher had been playing, Iniesta out and they hadn't scored an early goal) would they really have been saying how United embarrassed Barca with football from another planet? If Park's effort in the first minute hadn't been saved, would Barca have collapsed? My opinion? Probably. Football is much more about 'ifs' and 'buts' than players possibly coming from outer galaxies. Have some perspective.

  • Comment number 29.

    Barcelona were simply excellent - simple being the operative word. Keep the ball, pass the ball accurately. No amount of Ronaldo stepovers or dives can match that.

  • Comment number 30.

    Absolutely delighted with the result. United have been average all season and have been lauded by the media in general as something they're not.

    The rest of the country has had to endure "Champions of The World" boasts all season. This is a long overdue slap in the face for their arrogance. Oh, could I just remind all United fans that the World Club Championship doesn't officially register on a club's role of honour, rendering it meaningless so it's not a treble. Would you like to add that stupidly oversized key that Rooney was presented with and make it a quadruple?

    They really did think they could just turn up, play any system and Barca would roll over. For Fergie to claim his team would "join the greats" was outrageous and the result was justice done.

    Rooney once again showed that he cannot handle big games and goes missing. The mark of a great player is that they can put their stamp on a game by taking it by the scruff of the kneck and digging in. How often does Rooney do that?

    The excuse of Fletcher missing is laughable. I thought United had strength in depth? The plaudits for Fletcher have been few and far between this season and yet now we are supposed to believe he's as intergral to the team as, say, Ronaldo or Vidic?

    As for Barcelona, Pep Guardiola has done something nothing short of miraculous. Fantastic to see such a young coach do so well.

    Congratulations to Barcelona, you've made a lot of people in England very happy!

  • Comment number 31.

    fergie didn't get it wrong.. If you don't touch the ball for munites it doesn't matter who you play. You cannot mount a sustained pressure.

    As had been said, United was found out yet again. In the PL they could just win 1-0 because teams like Hull, Stoke and Wigan had no quality. And Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal were not good enough to take advantage. This proved what I always believed. In England the name Manchester United wins the games not the team. The refs fear SAF and give soft pens like against Tottenham. United's luck at last ran out. Expect one of Liverpool, Chelsea or Arsenal to win the title next year.

  • Comment number 32.

    I must say most of the above posters are being a little pessimistic. Man U had an off night and Barcelona were superb. Chelsea had Barcas measure over 2 legs and if Fergie had of played a similar stifling style they may of got a result. But credit to him, he tried to attack (and produce an exciting final) and obviously believed he had the team to beat Barca, with the game plan he had formulated. But like I said, I think they just had an off night, on the night when it counted most. When you consider the toughness of the EPL against La Liga then you could say that maybe Man U had just lost the edge needed to be at their best due to a tough long season, which I hate to say, was quite a productive one for them. Barca never had the distraction of going to the World Club Cup, which must take something out of the players. The physical level of playing against EPL teams every week (even the lesser teams) is quite taxing on the body. I would be the last person to stick up for Man U but I have to say that it was a great season for them. One off night is not the end of the world and I am (unfortunately) sure they will be around abouts next season. Man U supporters should not bag Fergie, look at what he has achieved. No other manager comes close in the last 20 years. I wish we were knocking Rafa in 20 years time with a record like Fergie has had over 20 or so years. Heres hoping.

    Bring on next season!!

  • Comment number 33.

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

  • Comment number 34.

    It was a poor performance, tactically inept and inflexible. Playing Giggs 'in the hole' was so far wrong he was out of sight. This left the midfield swamped and Anderson was like a headless chicken, Carrick lost his radar, Park disappeared. Never has Darren Fletcher been so missed.

    However the comments from Liverpool and Chelsea fans have improved my mood no end. Lets remember who got to the final, who won the Premiership, who won the World Club Championship - neither of those sides for certain.

    Suggesting that Chelsea woud have won based on he semi-final performances is a falacy - a two leg game is totally diffeent to a final in almost every possible respect so the comprison ios invalid. Liverpool didn't even make the semis!

    Fergusion needs to look at his approach in Europe though, outplayed by Bayern in '99 only to win in the last minutes and winning by default after Terry's penalty miss does not represtn a great return from the man woulb be Europena king. Over 38 games he is the master - in one-off's and cagey two leg ties he is very fallible and perhaps tries to be too clever.

    Finally there is the Berbatov question and this is perplexing - what can be made of this £30 millin pound misfit? Resolving this striker conundrum and finding a world class midfieleder must be Fergie's priorities for the summer.

  • Comment number 35.

    I actualy dont think that Barcelona were that brilliant.They played well,it was just the fact that United were poor.United won the Premiership this season ,by beating everybody OTHER than the other top clubs by their attacking football.Of late some of their frailities have been shown up in defence and with a combination of some flair,helpful referees and a bit of luck, these discrepancies have been masked.Last night we saw that what happened against Villa and Spurs and even Wigan came to its natural conclusion against Barcelona.All three ,but most important the flair was not to be found. In particular I thought Carrick had a terrible game,but he was not far worse than most of the team.A Barcelona team really on song could of absolutely destroyed United last night.The league table does not lie and Manchester United won the Premiership, but by the last few weeks of the season without doubt both Liverpool and Chelsea were better sides.

  • Comment number 36.

    Ferguson should retire now. I expect he will, shortly. He is past his sell-by date and, in truth, so are many of his current team. I. for one, will not be sad to see the back of this admittedly great manager.

    He is an ungracious, ill-tempered and arrogant man who has set a bad example on so many occasions by whining about officials and other managers. It's a pity he was ever knighted.

  • Comment number 37.

    people who saw barcelona rip real madrid apart must have seen this coming there forwards have scored 100 goals the midfield do not lose anything you could have stuck my grandma in defence last night she was not needed credit to man utd they only kept it to 2

  • Comment number 38.

    The first thing I read about Pep Guardiola months and months ago was that he is all about possession - Barca will not give up possession easily and when they do all 10 field players work as hard as they can to get it back. So it's a bit weird to read in many places that Barcelona didn't give ManU the ball - well, yeah, that's their whole game plan. It is actually a brilliant defensive/offensive tactic, and the only way they can play - as also said by Guardiola.

    I don't think ManU needs to be kicked while down - ManU is a wonderful team but on this night they went in with the wrong tactics. They probably though they could play like against Arsenal, not realizing that Barca actually does everything that Arsenal is only trying to do. SAF could have used Guus Hiddink's tactics - those seemed to work very well, and with a bit of luck Chelsea could have won, and there is no doubt in my mind that ManU, if they wanted to, could play the same game.

    But here is why SAF should be hailed: He chose not to play this game. He chose to play a positive, and attacking style. It didn't work out but he did not play an ugly game like Chelsea did. That's not the ManU way - to the end.

  • Comment number 39.

    I understand that hyperbolae make for better headlines than cold facts, but Barcelona weren't brilliant last night. Had they been at their flowing, attacking best they would have cut United to pieces and scored 4, 5 or more given the quality of play on show from United's players. I was there last night, and with the possible exception of Tevez, not one of the United players put in a performance approaching what we have seen they are capable of. They looked nervous at times, but mostly they looked like they were not up for the fight. Sadly, individually and collectively, they reminded of more of Newcastle in their last game, as if they did not understand what was at stake, than of the side that dismantled Inter Milan and Arsenal on the way to the final. Their passing was so terrible that all Barcelona had to do was count to ten and voila, they had the ball again, which they could then hold onto using their superb passing skill combined with a lack of movement and desire to close them down from Utd players.
    When Tevez stood at the touchline after the break, it was hard to know who deserved to go off the most.
    It's somewhat academic picking over Ferguson's tactics, since they were never implemented. It's tempting to say Fletcher was missed, but he could not have compensated for the malaise that hung over Utd last night.
    The saddest thing, from my perspective, is not that Utd lost, it's that we were all denied what could have been a footballing spectacle, a celebration of the club game at the highest level, and while Barcelona weren't at their glorious best, Utd's players have to take the blame for that failure.
    We never got to judge which side is the better in terms of skill, since Utd clearly left theirs in Manchester, but in terms of will, on last night's showing, their can be no doubt.
    Game, set and match to Barcelona.

  • Comment number 40.

    For me it is good that United lost. The comments of Evra of 11 men against 11 babies came to haunt them. Barcelona plays exactly the same kind of football we play and on a good day United are not our match but their arrogance did them in. Good. Very Good.

  • Comment number 41.

    Interesting comments on Ferguson's approach to the game - there was lots of talk after the game of how good this match made Chelsea's two efforts against Barcelona look. Guus Hiddink's side were seconds away from putting the Catalans out - and made them look pretty ordinary in the second leg at Stamford Bridge.

    Let me hear your thoughts on Sir Alex Ferguson's team selection? Did he get it wrong? Should Wayne Rooney have been played on the left at the start - and should one (or both) of Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov figured from the start?

    My own view on Rooney is clear. He is good enough to carry off that left flank role, but he is a world-class talent when played centrally. He was lost to that game last night and this must be a huge regret for United.

    The debate is open to all sides - and it seems clear fans of other clubs are willing to join in too.

  • Comment number 42.

    A bit of perspective is called for here.
    Phil McNulty refers to a very dark hour for United. Most football fans would love their team's dark hour to be runners up in the Champions League to what is probably the best team of the decade. United were simply outplayed by a superior team and no amount of tactical tinkering would have changed that last night.
    Also, I don't think the argument over who is the world's best footballer was settled last night. Iniesta has as much chance of winning that accolade as Messi based on last night's evidence. Sorry Cristiano, you are not in the running this time. Visca Barça !!

  • Comment number 43.

    Man utd couldn't complain.Barca were just too good last night.
    anderson must have had his least effective game so far last night.
    i think darren fletcher would have made a difference.
    however, i think fergie will make few good signings and they will come back stronger.
    may i also point out Puyol's dramatic acting and rolling about.
    he completely disgusts me

  • Comment number 44.

    The men (man u) saw their fellow men and did not stop them. Why?

  • Comment number 45.

    I think Messi is a tremendous footballer but his performance wasn't a lot better than some of the goal-scoring performances Ronaldo has been slated for this year. "Well he scored a goal and had a shot or two but what else did he do?"

    Stop fawning over him when Iniesta and Xavi were Barca's first, second, third and fourth best players.

    Oh, and I didn't realise Puyol was such a whinger. Disappointing.

  • Comment number 46.

    No 27. I would suggest to you that it is. All 4 English teams made the quarters this season. Over the last 5 seasons, English teams have been the most consistent by a country mile. The drama and excitement that the EPL delivers on a continual basis is second to none.

  • Comment number 47.

    mr Moderator,

    why the post 33 is allowed even though it posts a link and clearly breaches the house rules and my post number 3 is still awaiting moderation even though only thing I said as Winchest in 28 that the blogs written are over exaggerated and when journalist (phil in this case) learn to write a more balanced article. Clear double standards and I owe an answer.

  • Comment number 48.

    Way over the top Paul, to suggest that Barca dismantled Utd is wrong, this match could be played again tomorrow with Utd winning 2-0, sure it was not a good performance, too many Utd players had bad games on the night, not least Vidic and Ferdinand (was he really fit?). Barca have played better also, Messi played well in patches, but Henry was anon apart from the sitter he missed. Eto'o didn't do much else after his goal. Iniesta was good but for me Xavi was M.O.M. I hoped for a better match, but lets face it we've seen a lot worse CL finals.

  • Comment number 49.

    Why are we surprised? United's success in the Premiership this season has been based on their extraordinary consistency in beating the weaker teams - they hardly dropped a point all season against the bottom 10 teams. But against the rest of the top 4 they were woeful: 3 defeats and only one win out of 6 matches. Not a great return for a team that can afford to start with £60m of attacking 'talent' on the bench.

    Maybe we have to recognise that Ferguson's ability to motivate and organise gives him that consistency against the likes of Bolton and Newcastle but at the highest level the tactical ability and, perhaps, even the coaching of the players (who in the team can pass with the consistent accuracy of Barcelona or, for that matter, Arsenal?) is lacking.

  • Comment number 50.

    Spot on post 28. Barcelona were the best team on the night, and if things had happened differently in the first ten minutes then it could have been a completely different story, but as they say, "That's Football"

  • Comment number 51.

    United were deservedly beaten last night. No one can argue with that. Fact is that if they played Barca 10 times you'd probably get 4 wins to Barca, 3 to United and 3 draws, such is the closeness of the two teams. But last night, several mistakes contributed to the result:

    1. Indivdual performances: obvious to say really, but individually Utd were poor, particularly in midfield.

    2. Changing tactics: when Utd lined up with 4-3-3 I thought it was a sensible choice and the selection of Giggs made sense. But half way through the first half it was obvious that Rooney was totally wasted out wide. Almost every time he got the ball it was with his back to goal and Puyol tight up his backside. He must have played more passes towards his own goal than the opposition's last night. The fact that Fergie only gave him ten minutes at the end of the first half through the middle was criminal - he should have been pushed into his rightful position (number 10). Pique was booked early on, Rooney could have got at him running from deep, and thickened the midfield a bit.

    3. Half time substitution: Anderson had a disappointing first half. But he was the best of a terrible trio. How Giggs stayed on the field after half time is beyond me. Sentimentality from Fergie? With Anderson gone and Fergie switching to a 4-4-2 Utd lost their numerical equality in midfield and lost all their energy in the centre (Carrick has stamina, but no pace and tenacity and Giggs was a passenger). From that moment on the game was lost. Anderson staying on might have made the difference as he was the only one able to get close to Xavi and Iniesta in the first half.

    These three points are why United lost the game.

    As an aside, I thought Utd's best player last night was Scholes. Apart from his terrible tackle (where to be fair he did slip a bit) he matched Xavi and Iniesta for touch, vision, coolness under pressure and (most importantly) and ability to attract the ball to him at all times. When he came on it appeared as though Utd suddenly had a foothold in midfield. His was the performance everyone was hoping for from Carrick, but never came. I wonder whether Fergie regrets picking Giggs ahead of him.

    Final point: Utd definitely missed the bite, discipline and energy of Fletcher last night. But even more so they missed Owen Hargreaves. The ground that man can cover is remarkable and if anyone could have stifled Iniesta it was him. Take Barca's first goal as an example - Iniesta sauntered past Carrick and Anderson with a brief turn of speed, laying Eto'o in to score. There is no way Hargreaves would have allowed that to happen. I think everyone will see a different Man Utd next season when he is back. I happen to think he is the perfect foil for Carrick in a 4-4-2: energy, forward runs, tenaciousness and tackling aligned to passing, craft, precision and dictation of the tempo. I long for the moment that he is fit and he and Carrick can get a chance together in England's midfield.

    For the record I'm not a Man Utd fan and don't really care about last night's result, just trying to show where I think things went wrong for the champions last night.

  • Comment number 52.

    some people really ridiculed me with their castigating of United's falure last night. Yes, I totally agree that we have been outplayed by them last night, but at the same time, so were many teams before defending their titles. We were expected to win the CL because we were the defending champions, and Berca were deemed underdogs. But in reality, could any body put United ahead of Berca considering their performances and achievement domestically this season? I dont think so. It was the fight between a tiger and a lion, not between a sheep and a lion. It was a night when things, tactics, ideas and approach worked perfectly for Catalans while it did exactly the opposite for us. I am happy that we have faced the harsh reality in the department we are weak in, and some players might be made teetering in regarding themselves nothing short of GOD. It was enough of talking quadruples or whatever. All media hypes are alleviated, and players should be to feeling the less of expectations and hopefully we will bring that devastating football which is our trademark. I know we will bounce back, and it will be even stronger.

    Finally, congratulations to Barcelona, because if we were not their oppositions, I would be compelled to support them, such was the superiority and beauty of their game last night. And as a Man United fan, I am not ashamed at all losing to them.

  • Comment number 53.

    At 08:48am on 28 May 2009, ucheibe wrote:
    For me it is good that United lost. The comments of Evra of 11 men against 11 babies came to haunt them. Barcelona plays exactly the same kind of football we play and on a good day United are not our match

    Are you for real?

    Arsenal may aspire to play exactly the same football as Barcelona, but the reality is they are no where near the same level. Hence they have been totally outplayed by both Man U and Chelsea this season.

  • Comment number 54.

    Barcelona play the way the Spanish National side play, on the ground, quick accurate passing and deny the ball to the opposition, combined with a pressing game. Everyone acknowledged that Spain deserved to win the European Championship on the basis of the excellent football they played, so it would be churlish to deny Barcelona the same praise.
    Sure Chelsea, Español, Villareal have shown that you can hold them and occasionally even beat them, but they have faith in their abilities and style, and over the long run, win.
    Don't also forget that over 50% of the players (including subs), were locally produced, including Messi, who has been there since he was 13.
    Home grown talent playing football that is good to watch, who can knock it?

  • Comment number 55.

    The game last night settled a lot of questions that have been all over the place for as long as you care to remember:

    1. United's defence is the best...
    Only against teams that try to run around them. Charge at them and they slip and slide like a flat-spotted tyre on wet tarmac!

    2. Ronaldo is the best...
    Only against awe-struck opposition, who can't out-run or out-think him. Barca did both yesterday, and how that made Ronaldo look doesn't require another mention.

    3. Messi is the best...
    Arguably yes...The highlight for me wasn't the header he scored(though I'm hard pressed to remember a better header scored by a man who's just 5'7'' above ground!!!)

    The real highlight of his game was at 28:00, when he took on 3 MANU players and almost managed to get through, before being roughly pulled down. And he still got up and was first to the ball before anyone else. doesn't need to be said that Ronaldo would've screamed bloddy murder in the same situation...

  • Comment number 56.

    He played Rooney down the left because that pitted him against Puyol who was widely regarded to be the weakest link in Barca's depleted defence. I think it's fair to say the latter didn't put a foot wrong and won that particular battle hands down, and actually Barcelona's defensive performance has been shockingly overlooked in the post match analysis, but they kept Rooney and Ronaldo quiet all game and there's not many Premiershp sides who managed that this season. What I did find surprising was Ferguson left it until almost 70 minutes gone to change things.

  • Comment number 57.

    all the United haters (especially from the other Big 3 teams) need to know Utd winning in Europe would have brought more prestige and glory not just to our club, but also the Premier League, which you guys are a part of, making it truly The best league in the world, so hold on to your nasty attacks, because Premier League doubter/haters have more ammo to hit back, not just at Utd, but also all othe PL teams.

  • Comment number 58.

    Perhaps now they can remove that ridiculous ego trip World Champions logo from their shirts for once and for all. Great stuff Barca, men v boys. STILL 5-3! YNWA

  • Comment number 59.

    love post 26. i thought that i was d only one to notice that any time webb officiates, it goes in favour of man u even if they are not playing. he checks how the standing will affect man u and goes for d team that won't hurt their league chances. best ref to me is alan wiley. gets decisions right 99%

  • Comment number 60.

    Ronaldo vs Messi? No contest. I've always felt that Messi plays for the team and Ronaldo plays for himself. Barcelona are a breath of fresh air in the smog of modern football - half their team are locals! How often is that the case these days? Barca's victory over United is a victory for the community over the corporate. Nice to see.

  • Comment number 61.

    United fans are clutching at straws when they harp on about Fletcher missing, and the big difference he would have made. He'd have worked hard & played piggy in the middle to Barcas quick passing, but certainly isn't world class & certainly isn't good enough to have changed the outcome.

    Park and Anderson weren't really good enough to start, & Tevez on from the start in place of either, or instead of Giggs, would have been better. Of course its all what ifs, but I think Ferguson bowed to the pressure of playing Barcelona and showed them too much respect. Utd were in a kind of football no mans land, unsure whether to concentrate on containing Barcelona or trying to play their own attacking football, & they achieved neither.

  • Comment number 62.

    On the subject of Rooney, I thought he looked decidedly young last night, fazed even. I know this was his second CL final, but in reality last year was little more than a midweek FA cup final.
    Last night, he, along with pretty much the rest of United seemed very much in awe of Barca. I certainly was.
    I can't remember seeing a team hassle a game so much - everytime they eventually lost the bal, two if not three Barca players chased down whoever from the United ranks had the ball - forcing misplaced passes, or simple stealing it back within seconds. I think credit has to be given for that hunger and desire as much as some of the sublime skills on show.
    Both goals where wonderfully crafted, and exposed the soft underbelly of SAF's defence. I see some comments here about the value of United's squad and the lesser value of their ability, but last night I think there was a purer value on show, and that was the Barca players wanting to win the CL a hell of a lot more, and doing all they could for it.
    Well played to them.
    I've got no doubt SAF will be there next season - some players won't, and some new one's will. I'm not writing them off like some others, but it's a steeper slope to get back tot eh top again after tonight.

  • Comment number 63.

    One very shameful thing is that the so-called pundits are so biased that they just can't stop plugging MANU...

    When Barca were going around on a victory lap, the commentators here on the coverage in ASIA couldn't stop mentioning MANU's brilliance in winning the Premier League...

    Yes, MANU won that, but I guess the pundits would be better off plugging the game that they're being paid to cover, that being the CL final...I don't think any pundit even cared to mention the La Liga...And judging by the responses here, its not just the pundits here, its the same everywhere....pathetic...

    And can everybody please stop sympathizing with the losers, and stop saying if this, if that?

    If MANU have to live by 'what ifs' after bringing their best, that says a lot about them, doesn't it?

  • Comment number 64.

    Ferguson got it completely wrong last night. He must have believed everything that the United loving press and television in this country said in the run up to the game. United have been poor for most of the season and have struggled against decent teams and decent referees. United confidence along with its midfield disappeared last night with the first goal. It could and should have been 4 or 5 for Barcelona. A great night for football. At last the myth of the mighty United has been exposed for what it is. And for gods sake stop bleating on about the world club championship, its about as worthless as the carling cup. Still 3-2 to Bob Paisley - a great manager but most of all a decent man, unlike old red nose.

  • Comment number 65.

    I think too many pundits and Journos are lauding SAF for being gracious in defeat. He had no choice, Utd were 2nd best for most of the game. It seemed strange too that the commentators and pundits constantly banged on about the first 10 minutes, when they should have been questioning why their heads went down and they lacked the stomach for a fight after Barca scored.

    I always thought SAF was ruthless, the likes of Beckham, Staam and RVN so I thought were victims of this side of him. However, He seems to be too loyal to his trusted senior players, i.e. Giggs and Scholes. Giggs is too old to be chasing Barca players around, that was a baffling selection. Rio clearly wasn't fit, another iffy choice.

    I thought I'd take pleasure in Utd's defeat but for some reason I'm not. They let their fans down badly!

  • Comment number 66.

    It is expected that all "enemies" of united are surfacing up today following last night's appauling show by the premier league champions. "Winning through luck and controversy over 2 seasons", "no real talent" and many other petty comments in my view. Last night united deserved to lose the game as they were outplayed by a better team, there's no denying that, there is consensus all over the news. Let's not forget that united has won what is arguably the best and toughest league in Europe and for those who think the spanish league is superior, take a look at the uefa rankings (england tops the list with spain coming second). United on a good day, are still the team to beat. They'll be back next year, no doubt about that.

  • Comment number 67.

    To say that Barcelona were by far the better team last night would be true. To say that United are generally inferior would be completely wrong. I still believe that United are the better team and would've won if the tactics weren't so wrong. Here is my tactical dissection:
    To beat Barcelona a team needs to play 4-5-1 with two wide men. Yesterday only goes to show the pitfalls of playing any other formation, especially a 4-4-2. Iniesta and Xavi are THE 2 best creative midfielders in the world and Ferguson knew it. To think that 2 central midfielders, Carrick and Anderson, could take care fo them was pure negligence. They could easily pass Carrick and Anderson and thensome. This also meant that the two wingers had to be pulled back inside to help out which also created space for the full-backs to come up, creating further problems for the wingers who were now out of position. This is why United were stretched for most of the game. With 3 men in the centre of midfield Iniesta and Xavi would've had a much tougher time, and this would have also freed up the wingers. To be honest last night looking at their fullbacks it was fairly obvious that their weakness would be on the wings. United did not get the ball out to the wings anywhere near enough and I can't remember too many times where we gave their full-backs problems.
    The players on the pitch were the right ones but the formation was completely wrong.

  • Comment number 68.

    Winschest, BAD LOSER! ha ha ha ha ha

    Read the other entries in this blog and you will see many Man Utd fans being gracious losers for a change. You were beaten by the better side in a one-off game and exposed by poor tactics by red nose and playing at least 5 average players in a champions league final.
    I agree that Utd have riden their luck for at least the last two seasons and their frailties have been shown by a better side. I don't expect United to win this, the league next year, maybe they will win the World Club Cup again (played by other inferior second class teams)and maybe the league or FA cup. Nest years Premiership will be very close and Utd will need more luck and iffy decisions by Howard Webb and other top class officials to win either big trophies.

    I would have rather Chelsea won it this year against United, but due to Man Utd like lucky decisions that went against them and for Barcelona in the semis, it was not to be. Barcelona did need some luck to get to Rome, but showed Utd that arrogance isnt the way to be.

    Hopefully red nose will quit after next year with his dream of beating Liverpool's record of league and european wins not fulfilled. Maybe Benitez is jealous that Ferguson beat him with an inferior side, but Bob Paisley is a better manager than Ferguson and always will be. This is because he didn't play the games Ferguson does, moan constantly about evey decision and have the arrogance of the scottish one (not the special one)

    I'm sure Ronaldo will deny Real Madrid rumours and then dramatically sign on the 11th hour. Maybe Utd shoud get rid of some dead-wood; Park, Ferdinand, Neville, Anderson, Nani and your youth players don't seem to be up to the standards of former up and comings like Beckham, Scholes and Giggs. I think Utd need a major re-think because they are not as good as they think they are.

    By the way, Liverpool defended THE EUROPEAN CUP in 77/78

    It's been refreshing to read the comments of other people who also realise Utd have rode the coat-tails of the press and believed eveything that has been said about them. I admit, I am jealous of Utd's success in the last 17 years, but I would want players like Ronaldo, Rooney and Berbatov who beliive all that they read.

    Looking forward to nxt season, Liverpool for the Premiership (cursed us now), Arsenal for the FA Cup, Fulham for the League Cup, Undecided for the Champions League & Man Utd for the World Club Cup. Seems Fair.

    Anyway, it's only a game

  • Comment number 69.

    The formation which brought success against Porto and Arsenal failed against a superior team. Barca played much better as a unit with Iniesta, Xavia and Messi running the show. While Utd had the first ten minutes, once the goal went in they had no real response. As a United supporter, i take my hats off to Barca, they comprehensively proved that they have been the best team this season any yet this seems to surprise some people judging by the pre-match predictions. It is no surprise that Barca dominated midfield with the quality of players they have there. United needed to capture the form of last season to have a fighting chance and they came nowhere near it. Midfield is where United are weakest with at the very top level having too many ordinary players and with former great players past their peak. Carrick is too slow at this level, serious questions have to be asked of Anderson, Giggs just didn't produce, Park is not quite up to it and Rooney has produced 2 poor final displays now. Ronaldo tried but it didn't click for him, too many solo efforts instead of laying it off. Collectively United needed to produce the game of their season and once they went the goal behind they had no answer. The team and formation was as expected and Sir Alex tried several permutations after that but to no avail. So i don't believe Phil that the tactics were at fault, the players in midfield are no of the highest calibre and playing at their peak as is the case with the Barca trio highlighted above. This is where Ferguson should focus his attention for summer transfers - quality passing and creative midfield players, he already has enough grafters. Congrats to Barca, they have been the best team all season. Any chance Iniesta will sign for us???

  • Comment number 70.

    United were under par, got their tactics wrong and the best team won on the day, but it doesn't alter the fact that this has been a tremendous season. At least we've finished the season with trophies unlike the teams whose supporters are gloating on this message board. Congratulations to Barcelona.

  • Comment number 71.

    Barcelona were ok yesterday but lets not go overboard and say that they were brilliant or world class yesterday. They were ok - which is all they needed to be in the end. I'm sure Chelsea would have beaten the Barcelona team yesterday.

    This Utd team has suffered in one position in particualr this season - defensive midfield cover. if you look at previous premier league wiiners you'll see key players such as makelele, Essien, Viera, Petit, Ince and Keane.

    Utd lacked that player yesterday - Hargreaves is that guy for them - whereas Barca had Toure to help clean up. somehow they've got away with it in the league.

    My real gripe with Utd is putting players such as Rooney out wide left and then putting wide players such as giggs and Ronaldo down the middle! I'm sure barca expeted to be tested defensively but they weren't really. shame as the keeper looked a bit suspect and i'm sure they would have conceded if we'd seen Rooney/ Tevez/ Beratov down the middle and the wide players out wide. After all the Rooney and Tevez partnership won the league and CL double last year - so why change it!?

  • Comment number 72.

    I once comment in the other blog what I was expecting.
    We all know about this ball possession philosphy of Barca.
    1. I was expecting C.Ronaldo get frustrated, need I say more
    2. I hoped Sir. Fergie coul field Tevez right from the beginning but he didn't
    3. Rooney was stead, I liked the spirit he preserved
    4. Anderson was not supposed to be taken off or else could have come in at the second half....

    Messi, Etoo delivered and Henry was inched to the scoresheet...

  • Comment number 73.

    And somebody mentioned it a few weeks ago on some blog, that MANU won the league because they're consistent over the season... True... They can consistently beat weaker teams (a lot of them by flimsy 1-0 margins)...

    It didn't cost them heavily in the league because you can lose to the top four and still beat everybody else to become champions...Not so here..

    In a knockout competition, it's here and now...If your team doesn't turn up, sorry about that...Care to turn up next year, and hire a coach driver who knows the way to the stadium!!!

  • Comment number 74.

    I have no pleasure in saying this but on the evidence of last night dont expext England to ever win anything in the next decade Cappello beware.
    Carrick - lightweight.
    Rooney - Inept and woefully out of posistion.
    Ferdinand - ball watching and unable to lead from the back .

    Premier League best in the world dont make me laugh its easy playing the likes of Stoke etc every other week , what will you learn there , we are so far behind its not funny

  • Comment number 75.

    49. ExBTMan

    i actually agree with this comment and i think this happens for the following reason:

    When utd play the so called "weaker" teams they play to their stengths. However when they play a "top 4" team they stick their strikers out wide (or on the bench) and their wide players in the middle. Why they do not play to their strenghts i do not know. Can you imagine the Utd side of 1999 sticking Yorke or Cole on the wing and Beckham/ Blomquivst/ Giggs up front!?

    Barca always play the same way but, as we found against chelsea, they don't really have a plan B.

  • Comment number 76.

    The comments before last night's match where hilarious.Barca couldnt cope with United's physical play,pace,Messi would be in Evra's pocket,Barca backline was dodgy,keeper was dodgy,Henry had never scored in a final blah blah blah.Absolute tosh!
    United where sublimely steamrolled last night.When Iniesta claimed the Barca way was 'pass,move and offer'I knew we where in for another treat.Carrick,Anderson and Park chased shadows throughout while Xavi and Iniesta pulled the strings in midfield.2-0 actually flattered United.It could and should have been more.The gulf in class was disturbingly apparent after the opening salvo from United.
    Fair dues to Ronaldo though.He seemed to be the only player in white that actually fought and ran for 90 minutes.Vidic and Ferdinand as a unit where poor and the less said about the calamituous display from Rooney,Carrick,Giggs,Scholes and Berbatov the better.
    The best side won.Hopefully we can all deal with that that!

  • Comment number 77.

    UK media & public opinion was grossly exaggerated in favour of Man Utd before the event, Barca after it.
    In the event, Barca was brilliant, Man Utd poor.
    Just one (very important!) match in a series where luck plays, & played (just think back to the semis) a great part.
    Barca has the Cup but the real winner is hyperbole.

  • Comment number 78.

    Although Barca were brilliant last night, I think Man U were really poor. If Man U had played anywhere near their best it would have been very close but it was men against boys last night.

    It's time to say goodbye to Giggs (should jot of played last night), Scholes and other players who are simply past it.

    Man U will be back next season stronger, fasters and more determined and as an Arsenal fan its not good for us!

  • Comment number 79.

    PS, I don't care what people say about my comments, I got My Say :o)

    PPS Ronaldo, never would have him in my side; arrogant big headed and dirty

  • Comment number 80.

    Patrice 'men against boys' Evra was found out last night, wasn't he?

  • Comment number 81.

    barca's team selection was good; they had no other options, right? Fletcher, Fletcher, how he was missed. good job cescy and arsenal. man u's squad should have been: van der saar, evra, vidic, rio, o'shea, giggs, carrick, scholes, ronaldo, rooney, tevez

  • Comment number 82.

    Finally, a much needed reality check for the English football. I am from the Netherlands and follow the Premiership quite closely (watch at least one match a week), but all the talk lately about the Premiership being the best league in the world, ManU the best team in the world and Cristiano Ronaldo the best player in the world began to really annoy me. Sure, the Premiership is the best in terms of media coverage and money invested, but what about the number of quality home-grown players produced? This is why the English national team is where it is.

    As for Messi against Ronaldo: I think Messi had 2 or 3 shots on goal, and Ronaldo almost had more shots that passes. This pretty much sums it up.

    Ironically, after everyone in the British media were saying Ronaldo is better, because he is stronger and can head the ball, Messi goes and scores a header.

    And finally, to reply to all those saying Chelsea should have won the semifinal. That's what you get, if you play at home and defend for 20 minutes against a team, which is a man down. Chelsea gambled and it didn't work out for them. They could've have tried to play more attackingly (because they know how to, I've seen them produce some fantastic attacking displays) but they were too afraid of giving Barcelona too much space. In the end, they were punished for their lack of ambition.

  • Comment number 83.

    what strikes me as interesting is how for the first ten minutes man united controlled the game, barcelona then got a goal against the run of play and then kept possession of the ball until the final whistle.

    go back a few weeks to the semi final and when the same thing happened for united against arsenal all that was said was "men against boys", "arsenal were out classed by the greatest team in the world", man united are unstoppable" etc.

    in the wake of this game will the same be said of last night?

  • Comment number 84.

    It was a disappointing performance after they scored. Barcelona were simply better on the night and are probably the better team, full stop. As with many games,how things pan out depends on circumstances. The last thing you want to do with Barcelona is give them a goal after 10 minutes and raise their confidence. I'm sure this knocked our own belief and we lack a Keane to raise the motivation these days. For the first 10 minutes I thought we shook them a bit and that would have been a good platform to take the whole first half. It reminded me of when we played Madrid in 2000. We were on top for 20 minutes until Keane scored an og and in the end we looked outclassed. To have beaten them last night would have needed a bit of luck. If that early free kick had bounced off the keeper more kindly for Park to tap in you would have seen a different psychology.

    The team selection; I thought it was about right. Perhaps Ronaldo right, Rooney left and Berbatov up front. Is SAF getting sentimental giving Park a start? I though Anderson was terrible but he's young and was probably a bit overawed.

    Tactics; should have closed them down tighter like they did with us. I couldn't understand, when we were playing 4-2-4 late on, why we were not playing the long ball to 4 strikers, 2 of whom had fresh legs.

    Oh and to the plonker who says the Premiership can't be the best league, do you realise that Barcelona beat the second team in the Spanish league 6-2 away? Did you know that the game against Chelsea was the first time they failed to score at home since.......the game against Utd last season! Barcelona may be the best team in Europe (or world) but they are way ahead of the rest of La Liga.

  • Comment number 85.

    I agree with you Phil, in this particular situation it may have served Rooney better to play through the middle. He is very capable on the left but I don't think you can ever expect to have to much possession and free passing against Barcelona, their mentality is to press very hard and they do it well. That is why I couldn't understand Ronaldo playing so far up the pitch. A deeper lying Christiano will invariably get on the ball more allowing him to run at the Barca defence, in the absence of their usual lions share of the passing game this was an avenue of attack they sorely missed.

    For me Rooney and Teves up front would have been the option, they are both tireless in their work rate and can drop deep into the midfield to help break down Barca when they are at their rampant best.

    I am not so sure Ferguson got it to wrong though, I think he just gambled that his team's gameplay could push Barcelona out of their comfort zone before the Spaniards could do the same in return, it looked at first like it might work but the timing of the first goal was everything in this tie!

    Barcelona deserve great plaudits for their fluid, attractive style but their is certainly not a gap between them and their main rivals in Europe as many are suggesting based on one game. In fact I think Chelsea were the better team over to legs and last nights game will only intensify the bitter taste in their mouths. This years CL will leave one question long long in the minds of football fans everywhere. Just how good could Chelsea have been if the motivational and tactical 'Dutch Master' had decided to stay????

  • Comment number 86.

    This result shows just how important Fletcher has been to United, they were lacking a genuine battler in midfield, the energy of Park and Tevez just didn't make up for the tenacity of Fletcher.

    Rio wasn't fit, Evra and JO'S were absent, Vidic had all the pressure on him, the only reason he looked so bad was because he was dragged into areas where he does not excel... because of the poor positional play of those around him.

    and berbatov... oh dear... not exactly Teddy is he...

    Maybe the annual bout of SAF sycophancy came a game too early.

  • Comment number 87.

    Spot on No. 32. How can you say that the EPL is better than La Liga? I've been watching Spanish football all season, and every team Barcelona came against up has known how to defend, how to pass (unlike most of the teams in the EPL) and how to score goals. Compare this to the likes of Middlesborough and Hull, whose only tactic is to hoof the ball to Marlon King or Caleb Folan and hope that either of those donkeys can produce something. That is not competitive football.

  • Comment number 88.

    very good summing up by @51, and yes alot of people have forgotten about Owen Hargreaves, we really missed his defensive qualities, tackling, marking, tracking, covering, would have protected our defense much better.

  • Comment number 89.

    I think Fergie's big mistake was leaving Rooney at wide for so long: at a time when no one could inspire them, surely it would have been better to have your most inspirational player coming through the centre? I also thought Berbatov should have been on from the start. While he wasn't effective when he came on, he's not an impact player. On a night when United lacked any players who could hold onto the ball, Berbatov should have been starting.

  • Comment number 90.

    I thought the commentator on ITV was spot on last night when he compared the first goal to a fighter landing a big punch and MU were shell shocked. Rest of the match was likened to Hattons two recent losses. No disgrace to MU but the better team won on the night.
    I'm no fan of Ronaldo and some think he's petulent by his late fouls but at least he showed some anger at losing whilst the rest seemed dreadfully resigned to the loss for some reason?
    Perhaps the end for Scholes, Giggs and Neville era gone?

  • Comment number 91.

    I agree that barca were the better team however it was fergie getting his tactics all wong on the night that proved uniteds downfall..
    playing players out of postion against a technically gifted team is silly and they were out played and fergie was out thought... barca are so good at ball retention, as soon as barca lose the ball the three in midfield will pressure the other team into making a mistake... iniesta is possibly the most gifted individual i have ever seen.. he never loses the ball and play a variety of styles and postions..
    Uniteds team selection was not good.. rooney is not a winger and making him track back takes alot away from his game.. he is united main threat other than ronaldo an i gurantee barca were happy when he was started left mid... Giggs is not good enough to play at this level... very ineffective against such quality and ronaldo is not as good with his back to goal!
    Fergie lost this game with his tactics.. taking nothing away from barca.. they are a gifted team ! with Inesta standing out as the man of the match for me .

  • Comment number 92.

    If Fergie doesn't start playing Rooney off the striker weel in week out, it's gonna ruin Englands chances for the World Cup.

    Can't he see that 2 CL finals running, Rooney has gone missing?

  • Comment number 93.

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

  • Comment number 94.

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

  • Comment number 95.

    Westdrop- spot on!

  • Comment number 96.

    How astrocfc can say Chelsea were better than Barcelona over 2 legs is beyond me. Only one team tried to play football over the 2 legs, and it was not the team in blue. Shutting down the opposition does not equate to good football.

    Good football was what Barcelona demonstrated last night - quick, incisive, passing football with goals to show for the hard work!

  • Comment number 97.

    I watched this at my mates house and after the game, we both agreed that we need a world class centre midfielder. I think we can get away with it in the premiership, but in europe you need that player. We have good centre midfielders, but not world class, think Gerrard, Lampard, Fabregas or back to Roy Keane. This is something Fergie needs to address in my opinion.

  • Comment number 98.

    It's easy to over-analyse the game. Barca were worthy winners but if they played again next week it could so easily be flipped on it's head with Man Utd dominating. The fact is they are the two best teams around at the moment but Utd had a poor game. Sir Alex had a poor game too with Steve Mclaren-style tactical choices. I think Tevez should have started and Scholes should have been on before things started getting desperate.

    Well done to Barca. Guardiola is a likable fella and Iniesta is possibly the most influential midfielder in the world at the moment.

  • Comment number 99.

    Standard bitter responses from the ABU's. Champions of England three years in a row. Back to back Champions League finals. I'm pretty content with that FACT

  • Comment number 100.

    It seems United, by a lot of the comments posted here, are a team in decline. Im sure that the other 19 teams in the Premier league would be happy to be in decline if it brought them the league title for the 3rd time in a row, the Carling cup,the World Club Cup, and be beaten semi-finalists in the FA Cup and runners up in the Champions League.

    I agree tactically United were poor last night, and they need a ball winner in midfield, which Anderson and Park clearly werent. Its simple to say we missed Fletcher but thats why we have a large squad and we currently dont have an adequate replacement since the jury is still out on Hargreaves fulfilling the potential we signed him for.

    Berbatov is most definitely a conundrum, he unbalances the side and appears to not want the ball most of the time and when he does want it, he seems mostly to flick it with his leg stuck in the air to no one in particular. If he cannot bring a better return next season he will go down as a bad signing.

    United were beaten by the better team on the night last night, thats all this game tells you. As a United fan all I can say is well done to Barcelona.


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