Sir Alex’s Manchester United were absolutely decimated on the field yesterday,they were made to look like school boys chasing the ball around.The MVP(Messi,Villa,Pedro) scored and all the goals were assisted by the three midfielders.The United team looked shell shocked,but SAF should have known better,he should have realised that they are playing a team who beat Real Madrid 5-0 earlier in the season.In 2009 United gave too much respect to the Catalans,and on this occasion too little respect.Certainly no lessons were learnt from that disastrous night at Rome.
The Starting 11
Man United Starting Line Up
This was the line up which SAF used for all the big games this season,and in most of them they were successful,but the matter of the fact they were never up against the quality of a team like Barcelona before.This formation’s best performance came against Schalke,but even though it was a champions league semi final,Schalke is a team which was languishing in the bottom half of the Bundesliga.SAF should have clearly seen that when Madrid played with three holding midfielders,they were able to stop Barca,but still he went with Hernandez up front leaving Carrick and Giggs exposed and they were toyed by Xavi and Iniesta who formed a number of small triangles with Messi and simply passed their way around the United midfield.Xavi as usual was the master and controlled the pace and the direction of the game and in my opinion was the man of the match
And compare this to Giggs’s performance who effectivley is United’s most creative player.
And there is the difference between both the teams,United desperately needed another midfield player(preferably Fletcher) to mark Xavi and to prevent being overrun.So the lack of the additional player in the center of the pitch was a major factor.
Lack Of Changes At The Break
Even a layman could see that United needed someone to stop riot,and that they owed to Rooney’s brilliance that they were still in the game.Hernandez was having a poor game,and Barca’s backline stepped up comfortably and played him offside.He was caught offside many times and was unable to time his runs to perfection.Dimitar Berbatov(Who by the way was not on the bench) who is excellent at holding the ball up would have been better suited as he is on of the few player in the United ranks who had the technical ability comparable to the Catalans.After the break Giggs was shifted to the left and Park to the middle,but this led to more problems as Alves easily got past Giggs and this resulted in more attacks down the right.But the basic fact was that United’s midfield was completely overrun as the following analysis shows that.
If you cant stop Messi,then you cant win the game.And Man United couldn’t stop the little Argentinian who looks like a school boy but usually makes the defenders look like school boys.Jose Mourinho put Pepe in a specific role to stop Messi and it worked in the Copa Del Rey final,and it also worked in the Champions league final till the Portuguese stopper got sent off.Ferguson needed to do the same,but instead Ferdinand and Vidic took turns out to leave their position to stop the World Player Of The Year.It didnt work as Messi was given too much time and space.
No Definite Shape In United’s Formation
The first goal was purely due to a defensive mistake,Evra who should have been marking Pedro was nowhere to be seen,he was in fact dragged into the center by Messi and Xavi acted as a center of attraction as he attracted the attention of both the center halves and this left Pedro free.And as usual Xavi picked him out with a precise pass and he finished off sending Edwin Van Der Sar the wring side.This may not be entirely Evra’s fault as he came off his position to mark Messi who was unmarked,who by the way should be marked by one of the center halves.So clearly there was confusion in the United defence on the roles assigned to each one of them.SAF should have got this worked out in the training ground as this Barca team was no known for ages.
One may say that United got their tactics wrong,but this Barcelona side is one of the greatest ever club sides and in Nessi they have a got the best player in the world who most importantly delivers when it matters.United were simply beaten by the better team,but the manner of the defeat is what hurts the most.Barcelona were playing with a makeshift defense and United weren’t able to trouble it except for Rooney’s goal.Xavi Hernandez is ceratinly one of the best playmakers in our generation and the difference in Messi for Argentina and Messi for Barcelona clearly shows that.It was fitting that Abidal lifted the trophy,it was a great gesture from a great team and as they say Barcelona is Més que un club.
The Greatest Team Ever?