Tuesday, May 31, 2011
How Great is Barcelona?
By Bagga Wilks
There is no question that Barcelona is the best team in football at this juncture. They do not have the best defense. Pique is an excellent central defender and Mascherano showed his versatility as a defensive player by partnering with Pique. Playing as a central defender is not Mascherano’s natural position. Danny Alves is more an attacking full back and Abidal’s quick return from cancer surgery was heroic. When Manchester United attacked, Barcelona’s defense looked shaky and Rooney’s masterful curler gave United hope and signaled that Barcelona’s defensive perimeter could be breached.
Other than Rooney’s goal, Manchester United looked incredibly ordinary. Barcelona plays against great teams like Manchester United, Arsenal and Real Madrid and treats the game like a training exercise.
Coaching is significant but the aggregation of Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets, Alves, Abidal, Villa and Pedro make them into passing wonders. They short pass, they move, they turn, they mesmerize and then they strike like vipers.
The Manchester tactic was to pressure the ball and not give Barcelona time to dominate possession. It worked for a couple minutes in the first half but as Barcelona stepped into a rhythm, Sir Alex’s contingent was running in circles and when they got the ball, were immediately dispossessed.
A central aspect of Barcelona’s ability to dominate is their capacity not to allow their opponents to put passes together. What is unique is not the art of the short passing but the use of space and the nonstop running off the ball.
Giggs was Manchester United’s trump card. Unfortunately on the big stage at Wembley, Giggs played like a 37 year old man. The other veteran was called in at the 11th hour but Paul Scholes was just as ineffective. Valencia who had been splendid since his return in January, played way below his ability. For the entire game, he kept fouling his opponents. Park, the indefatigable mid-field player was unable to cope with Barcelona’s quick passing game. The impact player and goal-scorer simply was out of his league in the Champion finale.
Messi was immersed in the Barcelona team game and showed why he is considered one of the best offensive players in the world with his strike past Van der Sar to put his team in the driving seat. It was also Messi’s magic that allowed David Villa to put the game out of reach.
The final lived up to the hype. All four goals were worthy of a Champion League final. Now the summer is upon us and great teams in order to stay great cannot remain still in the summer.
What does Manchester United need in the summer & Does Barcelona change anything to there well oiled machine?