Thursday, June 8, 2023

Brilliant Barcelona

Graham Fisher in Editorial, UEFA Champions League 28 May 2011


Lifted the trophy

Earlier this season I posed the question as to whether the current Barcelona side are the best club side the world has ever seen. It is a big claim and in truth, probably one that it is not fair to make, but tonight they took another huge step towards making it a realistic one.


They were fantastic against Manchester United in their 3-1 Champions League win. Make no mistake about it, Manchester United are a good side. They had their best eleven players on the pitch and they won the Premier League by nine points. They are probably the second best team in world football and Barcelona simply blew them away.

United were restricted to 37% of the possession and had just one shot on target. That is remarkable. The 3-1 scoreline did not in any way flatter Barcelona and they could have won by more. Normally a defeated team, particularly in a final of this magnitude, would be distraught. Whilst United will be disappointed, they will not be distraught. They know only too well that they were outclassed and beaten by a team that is better than them and are truly something special.


Barcelona were able to bring club captain Carles Puyol on the last few minutes and then allowed Eric Abidal to lift the trophy. The French left back had a tumour removed from his liver in March and then managed to play the full ninety minutes in the Champions League final. In victory, Barcelona showed class and sentiment.

All of that was a long way removed from the total lack of class they showed in the games against Real Madrid in the semi-final. I think we can now forgive them for that and put that down to the occasion and the history.


I can honestly say that in my forty years of watching football I have never seen a team as good as Barcelona. I have never seen a team that keep the ball so well. I have never seen a team who move so well. I have never seen a team work so hard on the rare occasions they haven’t got the ball and I have never seen a team who play such pretty football have such penetration.

In the game tonight, Valdes did all that was asked of him, although that wasn’t a lot. Danny Alves was a constant threat down the right and Mascherano, Pique and Abidal didn’t put a foot wrong. Busquets stopped every United attack and started every Barcelona one. Xavi and Iniesta were their usual brilliant selves and gave Carrick, Giggs and Park a lesson in midfield passing and moving. Pedro and Villa were magnificent and both scored and Lionel Messi was, well, he was Lionel Messi.


I wasn’t totally neutral because as an Englishman I wanted United to win. But despite that, I was in no way disappointed. In fact, I was happy and honoured to be able to watch such an exquisite demonstartion of how the game should be played. I didn’t see Barcelona play one hopeful ball into the channels and I didn’t see one hopeful high ball knocked long. Every pass was to feet and every pass had a meaning.

Barcelona have set the standard for all the big teams around Europe and now it is up to the likes of Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Milan and Real Madrid to try to catch up. The problem is that they are a very long way behind and it is hard to see how they can do so in the short term. Maybe Manchester City have a chance with their spending power, but Barcelona are where they are because they are team and not individuals. Seven of their team came through the club’s youth system. You can’t buy that.

I feel very priviliged to have watched that performance tonight.


Graham Fisher



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12 years ago

Man, I wish I got to see the match, but they didn’t air it on ESPN. . . stinks. Like you said, Graham, I’m disappointed, but not distraught like I was 2 years ago. Barca’s the best in the world, and United’s second best, but we all can see how big that gap between the two sides is just by looking at the scoreline and the possession stats. I’m still trying to put my jawbone back in its sockets after seeing United only had 37% possession. City are getting better, but again, you’ve noticed that they won’t be as good… Read more »

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