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May 29, 2009

This one was billed as the "Mother of All Final". It indeed had to be. The final of this year's UEFA Champions League featured The Champions of Spain and England. Manchester United were the defending Champions and having won the Premier League for the third consecutive time was the prime candidate to retain their title, at least according to English Media. FC Barcelona, even though they had the most strongest attack on the earth, the English media and pundits gave them no chance owing to their defensive fragility. To add it all their attack struggled against Chelsea and was written off as "Not Good Against English Clubs". The English media had all predicted the outcome of this final before hand and was only waiting to see how well Manchester United is going to kill Barca. But the match turned out to be the biggest surprise for the English media. To their astonishment, FC Barcelona won and to add to their injuries FC Barcelona never had to play well to win this final. They weren't anywhere near their potential, still they kept a very talented Manchester United team under check.

This match was not only a clash between two giant clubs in Europe; it was also a match between a the most successful coach in club history against a rookie coach. At the end of the match you have to admit that FC Barcelona coach Guardiola came on top. I never considered Guardiola as a tactical genius; he is more a man manger kind of coach. But he completely had Ferguson under check. Numerous Postmortem has been conducted by English media about ManU's failure, but I doubt anything has been accurate. Most of them are finding it difficult to point fingers at Ferguson, a person they have always admired. Ronaldo may have directed the blame to Ferguson with his post-match comments about tactics. But his second half performance did not merit any merit either. More over he said he wasn't sure about his future in the post-match comments; that comment was a bigger shame. He should have taken heart-broken Manchester United fans into consideration before saying something which adds to their misery.

But their is no doubt in my mind about the fact that Ferguson has to take a majority of the blame. He never gave this Barca side the respect they deserved before the match and again failed to read the game at half-time. Many people has directed the entire blame to the starting eleven he chose. But for me that's a bit strange. You ask every pundit before the match they would have wanted a similar starting eleven. So for me his starting eleven choice was more or less accurate. More over 4-3-3 formation was a better choice than the 4-4-2 formation, as Barca had two old legs as full backs. For me Ferguson and his players took all the hype created by the English media about ManU's defense and Barca's defensive worries into the head. Manchester United came out with an absolute belief that this FC Barcelona side would never be able to score against them. The reaction of Manchester United defensive players after conceding the first goal is a testimony of this. They stood their looking totally confused as this was not part of their script. To decide that this talented FC Barcelona side will never be able to score against them was for me arrogance at its best. Manchester United always had a better chance of outscoring us because of our problems with the absentees we had in defense.

But what made Manchester United's pursuit a complete lost one was the inability of Ferguson to read the game at half time. There was no doubt that Manchester United was losing the midfield battle completely. Iniesta and Xavi were drawing circles around Anderson and Carrick. What Manchester United needed was a double substitution at half time. he should have taken off Anderson for Scholes and Park for Tevez. But he did half of each - Andesron for Tevez. This meant that they will go back to 4-4-2 formation. That tactic completely changed the match in Barca's favour. In the first half Rooney regularly troubled Puyol with his pace, eventhough his crossing was appalling. The logical thing to do was to move Tevez to centre and put Ronaldo against Sylvinho on the right in a 4-3-3 formation. But instead he chose the 4-42 formation that means the full back had more time to deal with the wingers. That is illustrated by the fact that Puyol had an error free game after the half time.

By not employing Scholes early in second half, Ferguson allowed Barca's midfield to completely dominate the possession. Scholes would have tried his best to make life difficult for atleast Busquets. But that was not to be. And also I have to question his decision to have Ferdinand in starting line-up ahead of Evans. Ferdinand and Vidic looked out of sync for majority of the match. Meanwhile Guardiola produce a tactical masterstroke by moving Messi to middle ahead of the midfield. That made sure that Messi, Iniesta and Xavi linked well at will. Apart from that he never had to work his brain. Everything went perfect according to his script - an early goal, Complete domination by Barca and a timely goal to settle the match. One of the best thing about this Champions League season is that it has catapulted Iniesta to greatness. He is a very media shy person and would never appear in limelight. But his performance in last few months have made people compare him with Messi and Ronaldo. Just listen to Rooney, a man who would have only one answer to the "Best Player on The Planet" debate a few days back - Rooney said and I qoute "I think Iniesta is the best player in the world right now. They pass the ball so well. If you don't take your chances against them, they will punish you." For all ManU fans who is reading this - don't take these comments personally, just take a moment and go through it, you will agree with my views.

All About FC Barcelona is a Blog dedicated to the Most prestigous Club in the world, FC Barcelona by an ardent fan. Here I discuss about the Latest happening surrounding our Club and present my Views about the same.

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