UEFA Champions League Final
FC Barcelona v. Manchester United @ Wembley Stadium
After winning their respective league's title, Barça and Man U kick-off in the finals. Both of these two clubs have dominated Europe in the last decade, having made a combined seven appearances in the final. But who will come out on top this year?
Both teams are evenly matched in terms of talent and skill. The big difference is whoever gets the first goal could possibly dictate the outcome of the match. Barcelona can play a very possessive game and Manchester can play a high-striking game. The two teams are bound to set up some great football.
After looking a bit shaky at first, Barcelona found their footing and played a great deal of the ball at their feet. And then Xavi gave a nice pass to Pedro Rodríguez who just gave the ball a simple kick against the inside of his right boot to beat Manchester's keeper, Edwin van der Sar. Just 27' in the goal came from the team who has had 71% of the possession tonight.
Then just seven minutes later, Wayne Rooney got the equalizer for Manchester. Rooney had a strong go at the ball and it soared past Víctor Valdés. It was a typical, wondrous finish for the English international and got the English club right back into the game. And what better way than to share an exchange with the great Ryan Giggs to get the goal to happen!
The goal rejuvenated Manchester, but Barça got right back in it. A chance from Lionel Messi nearly allowed the Spanish club to go ahead a goal a minute before half-time, but the chance was just missed and the teams go to the locker rooms tied at 1-1.
The go-ahead goal did finally come to Barça, though, at the 54'. The Manchester defenders were caught standing still and Messi utilised the moment. Messi moved in to the open area and swung a hard swing at the ball and many of us were caught mesmerised at the ball spinning into the middle of the net! Barcelona has this thing of where they control the tempo of the game with their passing. That was just what they did and Messi suddenly upped the anti on the United team and caught many by surprise.
Barça's goal set the stage for a more aggressive game from both teams. The first yellow card was awarded to Dani Alves at the 60' and then another to Michael Carrick of Manchester at 61'. Looking for a change in the play of his club, Sir Alex Ferguson replaced Fabio for Nani at the 69'. But the change made no help. In that same minute, David Villa made a quality goal after a hard battle of Messi against a Manchester defender! Villa's strike saw the ball fly into the top right corner of van der Sar's goal and the game looked to be greatly in Barcelona's favour.
The fall in Manchester's game was failure to gain possession. Barcelona saw 67% of the ball and as a result had more chances. Manchester only got three attempts out of their 33% possession. Many knew that the Spanish club had great ball possession and one of the best goalies at the moment. The Red Devils were undressed by the ball movement done by Barcelona and it was only typical that the passing would undress them down to the skivvies of the goal.
Congratulations Barça! ¡Felicitations Barça! Usted ha jugado un buen partido. You played a good game, too, Manchester, but you just weren't enough for the Spanish giants.
Man of the Match: Lionel Messi (FC Barclona)
My Man of the Match: Xavi Hernández (FC Barcelona)