May 28, 2009

No more questions: Barca's the best

There was much debate, going into yesterday's Champions League final, about which team was the best in the world. The consensus choice, it seemed, was to favor Manchester United--despite the fact that Barcelona led the Soccer Source Top 25 for most of the season (we know that many soccer fans, for reasons yet obscure, do not accept Soccer Source as the final authority on all matters great and small. Their loss).

Okay, so most of the "consensus" was supplied by UK media and their parrots in North America. But whatever its origin, it was wrong. Very wrong. Just how wrong was demonstrated yesterday in Rome, where the newly-crowned Spanish champions dominated all but the opening 10 minutes of the Champions League finale.

It was a clinic. Cristiano Ronaldo was almost completely neutralized. Wayne Rooney? Invisible. Ryan Giggs suddenly looked every one of his 35 years. Michael Carrick ineffectual (to put it politely). The United defense (including its goalkeeper) were left looking like slow, old men on the first goal by Samuel Eto'o. Carlos Tevez, in all likelihood playing his last game in a Man United kit, brought little when subbed in after halftime. Dimitar Berbatov even less.

On the other side, Barcelona's Andres Iniesta and Xavi established their dominance in midfield. Lionel Messi threw the odd hissy fit but was otherwise unperturbed by the big, bad United defenders. His goal midway through the second half settled matters, though Red Devils appeared to have given up the fight long before that. They showed no real sense of desperation or resolve. A team that had met its match and knew it.

Sure there were some tactical decisions by Sir Alex Ferguson that can (and should) be second-guessed (the 4-2-3-1 formation, for starters). Yes, Darren Fletcher and Owen Hargreaves were sorely missed. But Barca's dominance was so thorough, you have to wonder if any of this would have made a difference. It takes a lot to beat the best team in the world. And Man United didn't have it.

Photo taken from without permission.


  1. Hi,

    I didn't see the game, but from the resumes that I've seen, Barcelona did seem superior.
    During the last years, spanish teams have presented a more matured football - I'll say football if you don't mind - and for many, the spanish championship is considered the best, although many coaches prefer Italy.
    One thing is certain, when one goes to a football match, be it in England or Spain, one can be sure that is going to watch a good game, something that one cannot guarantee here in Portugal, unfortunately.

    Have a nice week,


  2. I like this blog and totally agree with you on this article. I write my own top 50 soccer teams each month at