Barcelona achieve ’something special’

May 28th, 2009 - 9:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Fernando Torres Rome, May 28 (DPA) Barcelona’s forensic dismantling of Manchester United in the Champions League final at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico Wednesday night seemed familiar.
Perhaps it was the long periods of complete dominance, of wearing the English Premier League champions down courtesy of a crisp passing game that bore all the hallmarks of Spain’s victory over Germany a year ago at Euro 2008.

Or maybe it was the sight of Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta ruling midfield and not allowing their opponents a sniff of possession.

In both cases the victory was more emphatic than the scoreline suggests: Spain prevailing 1-0 thanks to solitary strike from Fernando Torres while Barca went one better, winning 2-0 courtesy of goals from Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi.

Both performances set down a new standard of football that a side needs to achieve if it wants to succeed at the game’s very highest level.

Prior to the clash, everyone was talking about the Cristiano Ronaldo versus Messi duel but afterwards manager Alex Ferguson was acutely aware that it was in midfield where this match had been lost and that his pairing of Anderson and Michael Carrick had been

completely outclassed.

“Lionel Messi wasn’t the problem, Xavi and Andres Iniesta kept the ball all night and made it difficult for us,” he said.

“It’s a credit to them that they pursue their (footballing) philosophy and don’t change.”

With Barcelona completely calling the shots from the 10th minute onwards, when Eto’o cut in from the right to open the scoring, it was no surprise that Anderson only lasted to half-time before being hauled off.

The 21-year-old Brazilian was replaced by Carlos Tevez, with veteran Ryan Giggs dropping into a central midfield role, but United still failed to get a grip of the game.

Instead, Barca could easily have doubled their lead in a frenetic start to the second half as Henry and Eto’o both went close before Xavi saw his free-kick come back off the base of a post.

When Messi eventually popped up to head home a pinpoint Xavi cross 20 minutes from time to make it 2-0 it was no more than Barcelona, and, although Ronaldo almost pulled one back a minute later only to be denied by Victor Valdes, the Catalan giants comfortably ran down the clock.

The victory not only sealed a historic treble of Spanish league, King’s Cup and Champions League for Pep Guardiola’s side, it also moves Barcelona level with United on three European Cup titles.

Prior to the match, Ferguson had talked of his team having the capability of dominating European football for years to come but Barca have now bagged two Champions League crowns in four years and with a 38-year-old coach at the helm, look hungry for more.

Arch-rivals Real Madrid currently lead the way with nine titles, followed by Milan on seven, Liverpool on four, and Ajax and Bayern Munich on four apiece.

“We are not the best team in our club’s history, but we have played the best season in history to get the three titles,” said Guardiola, who called the win something special.

“We now have three but not as many as others but we are now getting close to a select group.”

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