Saturday, May 28, 2011

Barcelona claim their 4th Champions League title.

By Money Mike

In front of over 86,000 fans at Wembley Stadium and over 300,000,000 viewers around the world watching the match live on TV, Barcelona came out on top with goals by Pedro Rodriguez, Lionel Messi and David Villa as they defeat Manchester United 3-1. You look at the final stats and you'll be like, "what the f***!!". Shot attempts; Barcelona - 22, Manchester United - 4. Fouls; Manchester United - 16, Barcelona - 5. Time of Possession; Barcelona - 70%, Manchester United - 30%. You look at the stats and you can definitely say that Manchester United deserved to lose this one.

In the early stages of the match, despite Barcelona having more possession of the ball, Manchester United we're putting a lot of pressure on goalkeeper Victor Valdes and they nearly broke through when Gerard Pique's backpass was nearly taken away by Chicharito Hernandez, but Valdes scrambled to clear the ball out of danger.

In the 15th minute, United got caught and were lucky to get away with it. Xavi with a chip into the danger area which found Pedro, who nipped in at the near post, but his touch just went wide of goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar who was playing in his final game of his career. About five minutes later, David Villa tested van der Sar with a right footed effort from the edge of the area, but van der Sar kept it in front of him, it wasn't easy though.

In the 27th minute, Barcelona drew first blood as Xavi and Pedro hooked up again and this time a settle pass by Xavi did the trick. Xavi got behind Michael Carrick and slotted the ball trough to Pedro, who had plenty of time to set up and strike it low into the near post as van der Sar had no clue where he was going and Barcelona took a 1-0 lead.

In the 33rd minute, Manchester United came right back to level it up. Fabio won the ball after a good challenge on, I believe it was Sergio Busquets and fed it to Wayne Rooney who had room to run at the Barcelona defense. Rooney slotted it to Ryan Giggs who looked to have been in an offside position on the pass, but the linesman kept his flag down and Ryan Giggs fed it back to Rooney at the top of the area for a first time hit into the left corner to level it up at one. Rooney has picked up his game lately and started scoring a lot of goals again after all the criticism early in the season.

In the second half, the equalizer didn't seem to hurt Barcelona as they started to pour a lot of pressure on the Red Devil defense early and often and in the 54th minute, they got rewarded for it.

Andres Iniesta fed the ball to Lionel Messi who took a couple of touches before ripping a low left foot drive through the back line and past Edwin van der Sar to put Barcelona ahead to good. It was Messi's 53rd goal in all compititions this season and his 1st on English soil. 15 minutes later, Barcelona put the match out of reach......

In the 69th minute, David Villa curled a right footed effort over van der Sar and into the back of the net to claim the Champions League title for Barcelona and end all arguements that the Barcelona squad from 2010-2011 are one of the great teams that have ever played the game.

My thoughts on this match:

Now, this isn't the first UEFA Champions League that I've watched, but this is the first UEFA Champions League final that I've watched on live TV. There were a lot of things about this final that were way different than the group stage matches and the knockout round matches. This match was played on a Saturday just a week after the conclusion of the Premier League season, and normally, the Champions League matches are played on Tuesdays and Wednesdays which they still are, but starting last season, the final itself was played on a Saturday, but I didn't keep any track of that. I mean I wasn't really paying attention to the schedule, so I ended up missing that match. Before then, the final was played on a Wednesday, so unless I was sick, there would be no way I would catch it live, and watching replays on ESPN Classic were boring because I already knew who won those matches. So, I think it's good that they started scheduling finals on a Saturday. And also, I think this match was worth watching.

Scoring summary:

Barcelona - Pedro Rodriguez (Xavi) 27'

Manchester United - Wayne Rooney (Ryan Giggs) 33'

Barcelona - Lionel Messi (Andres Iniesta) 54'

Barcelona - David Villa (Sergio Busquets) 59'

Misconduct summary:

Barcelona - Dani Alves (caution; Reckless tackle) 60'

Manchester United - Michael Carrick (caution; Reckless tackle) 61'

Manchester United - Antonio Valencia (caution; Barging over an opponent) 79'

Barcelona - Victor Valdes (caution; Delaying a restart) 85'


Barcelona - Victor Valdes; Dani Alves (Carles Puyol 88'), Javier Mascherano, Gerard Pique, Eric Abidal; Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta; Pedro Rodriguez (Ibrahim Afellay 90'), David Villa (Seydou Keita 86'), Lionel Messi

Manchester United - Edwin van der Sar; Fabio (Nani 69'), Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra; Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick (Paul Scholes 77'), Ryan Giggs, Park Ji-Sung; Javier Hernandez, Wayne Rooney

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