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Barcelona (Eto’o 10′, Messi 70′) 2-0 Manchester United
Stadium: Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy
Competition: UEFA Champions League Final
Date: 27 May 2009
Kickoff: 18:45 GMT, 14:45, EST
Barcelona clinched the Treble as they humbled Manchester United in the Finals of the UEFA Champions League! Soccerlens brought you the action live! Click below for the live-blog and feel free to leave comments below!
It’s a dream match in every sense of the word. Two of the most storied and successful franchises in the world, each led by a claimant to the mantle of “World’s Best Player,” and each on the verge of historical seasons, will battle it out for supremacy with the most coveted title in Europe on the line. Both teams will come into this match having secured their respective domestic league championship, which marks the first time that two domestic champions met in the Champions League Final since 1999. The winner that year was Manchester United. The place was the Nou Camp at Barcelona.
So it’s appropriate that these two teams will meet for the Champions League crown. Manchester United can become the first team to successfully defend its title since the competition changed its name and format from the European Cup. They’re on the verge of an historical Quadruple and would become only the third team ever to repeat as League and European Champions (Real Madrid and Ajax are the others). They’ve endured a season of ups and downs, but are riding high after clinching their record-tying 18th League title. With Cristiano Ronaldo seemingly putting to rest rumors of his imminent departure to Real Madrid (at least until next week), the only drama surrounding the club seems to be that of Carlos Tevez. The energetic forward could be seeing a lot more of Barcelona next season if those rumors about a move to Real Madrid are accurate.
Manchester United will hope to get Rio Ferdinand back in time for the match. The center-back had hoped to feature in Manchester United’s season finale against Hull, but did not make the team. Darren Fletcher, their versatile midfielder who turned in a career season, will miss out after drawing a highly disputed red card in the Semifinals against Arsenal. Otherwise, Manchester United will probably look to use a similar setup to the squad that humiliated Arsenal in the Semifinals. United seem to struggle against slick-passing teams, and Barcelona would certainly fit the bill. You can bet that Sir Alex Ferguson will study the Chelsea tape very carefully to see how Guus Hiddink’s men stymied Barcelona’s fearsome attack.
Barcelona, meanwhile, could become the first Spanish side to win the Treble having already secured La Liga and the Copa Del Rey. Barcelona have been heavy favorites all year to win the Champions League and it’s easy to see why. With one match to play, they have already set a record for the most points in a 38-match season in La Liga with 86, and are within 3 league goals of Real Madrid’s all-time record for a 38 match season of 107. If they beat Deportivo in the season finale, then they will have matched the record for most wins in a season with 28 victories. If they win by two or more then they will have set a record for the best goal difference in La Liga history. They have three players in the top six for individual scoring, and they have scored 155 goals in all competitions while only conceding 54.
Barcelona, however, showed a surprising amount of ineptitude in the face of Chelsea’s physical defense. While Manchester United tend to play a more finesse style than Chelsea, they certainly have guys that can disrupt the flow of Barcelona’s vaunted offense, which could be missing two valuable components in Thierry Henry and Andres Iniesta. Additionally, Barcelona’s defense will be depleted as both left-back Eric Abidal and right-back Dani Alves are suspended. As such, Gerard Pique will play a large role for Barcelona, especially in light of all their personnel issues. The ex-Man Utd man has been giving his teammates inside information on how to stop Ronaldo, however, it could be Sir Alex Ferguson’s inside information of his former charge that could prove to be Barcelona’s undoing.
Of course, most of the focus will be on reigning World Player of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo and last year’s runner up, Leo Messi. Both players have a reputation for being big-game chokers, so both of them would love to lead their respective teams to victory. Will Messi and Barcelona triumph? Or will Ronaldo and Manchester United make it two-in-a-row? Tune in and find out!
Barcelona: Valdes, Puyol (c), Toure, Pique, Sylvinho, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Messi, Henry, Eto’o.
Subs: Pinto, Caceres, Gudjohnsen, Krkic, Keita, Rodriguez, Muniesa.
Puyol will come in for the suspended Alves at right-back and former Arsenal man Sylvinho will replace Abidal at left back. Toure will move back from his usual holding midfield role to play center-back. He’ll hope for a better effort than the one he showed against Chelsea. Iniesta and Henry will play (as if there were really any doubts that they would miss out), and Busquets will assume Toure’s usual holding role. No Alex Hleb among the reserves, which is a little strange, given his experience (he was on the Arsenal side that lost to Barcelona in 2006 and has usually played well against Manchester United).
Manchester United: Van der Sar, O’Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Anderson, Carrick, Giggs (c), Park, Ronaldo, Rooney.
Subs: Kuszczak, Berbatov, Nani, Evans, Rafael, Scholes, Tevez.
As expected, Manchester United will go with a similar lineup to the one that they used against Arsenal. Obviously, Fletcher will miss out due to suspension. As such, Giggs will slot in for him in the center of midfield, and will also wear the armband tonight. Rooney is listed as the lone-striker, but United have been playing Ronaldo up top with Rooney functioning as a left-wing. Tevez, in what will most likely be his last match as a United player, will start out on the bench. After missing out last year, Park Ji-Sung will start and will become the first Asian player to play in a Champions League Final. We’re proud of you, buddy!
Trophy Presentation: Hey, wait a minute! Why does Dani Alves get a medal? How is that fair? He was suspended!
Thanks to everyone who followed along! It’s been a great Champions League season and it was an honor and a privilege to bring it to you! Join me on Saturday for the F.A. Cup Final! See you then!
90′ + 3 Vidic gets booked for a foul on Messi, and Messi takes his time getting up from that one. There’s the whistle and we’re done! Congratulations to the Treble-winning Barcelona squad for winning the UEFA Champions League!
90′ + 2 Rooney sends a pass that’s intended for Tevez, but it’s out past the touch-line, and Pedro will come on for Iniesta. The Barca midfielder gets a standing ovation, and he deserves it. He’s the Man of the Match, no question about it.
90′ + 1 Three minutes will be added on. Rooney curls a shot/cross from the left, but it hangs in the air and Valdes takes it easily. Messi wins a corner at the other end as Vidic concedes it. Barca take their time here, and they take it short.
90′ Terrible pass from Rooney and it looks like there will be no ’99 style comeback. United were simply outclassed and outplayed. Plain and simple.
88′ Long kick from Van der Sar and he finds Tevez in the box. He tries to get past Pique, but the former Man Utd. man does well to close him down. It’s out for a goal-kick, and Pique has been excellent today. He’s outplayed both Vidic and Ferdinand today, the two center-halves he was stuck behind at Old Trafford.
87′ Rooney sends it in, but Puyol heads it away for another corner. Van der Sar starts to come up for it, but decides not to. Berbatov gets his head on it, but it’s not even close to the mark.
86′ Rooney gets it deep down the left and Puyol concedes the corner.
85′ United try and play it into the box for Rooney, but he’s so far offside it’s almost comical.
84′ O’Shea makes a great defensive play on Iniesta and he’s one of the few United players who has played well today. Puyol gets inside the box and he has a chance. Van der Sar is out and he blocks the shot. Puyol dives theatrically as he tries to stop the United counterattack. Ref doesn’t blow the whistle, though.
81′ Sure, it’s hard to count Manchester United out, but they really haven’t shown much. You can’t really see them getting two quick goals to send this one into extra time. The biggest reason why is that United just can’t seem to get the ball. Barcelona are too good at keeping possession and, as anyone will tell you, you need the ball to be able to score.
80′ Busquets is fouled by Scholes and the ref plays the advantage. Iniesta fires a hard shot at Van der Sar, but it’s in his arms. Meanwhile, Scholes is actually wearing the armband right now. I thought he had a policy about not being the skipper. Oh well.
78′ Ronaldo fouls Puyol and he gets booked. Ronaldo looks frustrated out there, and it’s not hard to see why.
77′ Scholes is on for Giggs. Is it too little too late?
74′ Puyol gets it deep down the right and Ronaldo lunges at him. He barely glances Puyol, but Puyol goes down like he’s been shot. No yellow for Ronaldo, but he’s hardly endearing himself to the Barca fans. Maybe he’s getting ready for next year. On the free kick, Xavi tees up Puyol in front of goal, but his header is right into Van der Sar’s arms.
73′ Nothing doing on the corner as Giggs’ effort goes out. Terrible showing from Giggs today.
72′ Henry will come off for Keita. United nearly get a goal as Berbatov catches the Barca defense off-guard. He centers it to Giggs, who misses the ball completely. Ronaldo tries to put it in at the far post, but Valdes blocks it to concede the corner.
70′ GOAL!! Giggs’ corner is knocked away into the path of Messi. He charges down the left, but Rooney tracks back and takes it away from him. Puyol comes back and lays it off to his right to Eto’o. His cross is poor, but Barca get it back. Xavi sends a great cross from the right wing and an uncovered Messi, who heads it past a helpless Van der Sar. Messi doesn’t score many with his head, so he must be relishing that goal. Especially since it was his first against English competition.
69′ Keita is warming up and should be coming on for Barca. Tevez charges and sends it to Rooney down the right. He sends in another cross and Pique knocks it away again. He seems to have Rooney well scouted. It’s a corner to United.
68′ Carrick sends another long pass, this time to Ronaldo down the left. It’s out of his reach, though, and Carrick’s struggles continue.
67′ Ronaldo is called for a foul on Puyol, and Ronaldo takes him to task for diving. No, no. You read that correctly. Pot, kettle, black…
66′ Henry fires a tame effort to the near post and Van der Sar saves it comfortably. Park will come off and Berbatov will replace him. Will that make a difference?
65′ Iniesta goes down really easily on the edge of the box, but Busacca is not moved. Ronaldo loses it on the edge of his box and Barcelona go on the counterattack. Carrick makes a nice play on the ball and knocks it away from danger.
64′ Giggs sends his corner into the box and Vidic just misses it with his head. Berbatov is getting ready to come on, and we’ll see the Big Four in action. Unless he’s coming in for Rooney… I doubt it, but Rooney’s done nothing today. Barca have really had his number.
63′ Carrick with another poor pass to Rooney, and Carrick probably isn’t going to put this match on his resume. Do soccer players even have resumes? Tevez gets it and leads the counterattack. Rooney tries to cross it from the right, but Pique again is there to knock it away. This time he concedes the corner.
61′ Giggs with a great effort to win back the ball and he sends it to Ronaldo down the left. He centers it to Carrick, but his pass into the box for Rooney is long and is out for goal-kick. Scholes is warming up and I’d imagine that he’s coming on for Giggs.
59′ United try to play their free kick quickly, but Ronaldo is offside. It’s been that kind of a day for United.
58′ The report is that Valdes is hurt. Not sure if that really makes a difference. He hasn’t had anything to do since the opening minutes of the match. If Barca keep playing like this, they could pull Valdes and United still wouldn’t get a sniff of the goal.
57′ Tevez runs into trouble and Iniesta calmly picks his pockets. Iniesta has been magnificent so far.
56′ Rooney crosses it from the right and he nearly finds Park uncovered at the far post. That could have tied it up right there!
55′ United have been terrible in this half. They still haven’t recovered from that Eto’o goal.
54′ Rooney sends in a cross from the right but Pique heads it away. Again as United cross it into the box once more, but Pique is there to head it away.
53′ Barca take a while to set up and Xavi sends a brilliant effort that hits the post! Van der Sar would have been beaten there. For some reason, Vidic had a chance to block it but chose not to. Maybe he’s already got that contract with Barcelona?
51′ Iniesta gets fouled on the edge of the box, and this will be a golden opportunity for Barca.
50′ Giggs gives it away cheaply and Eto’o threads a brilliant cross to the right half of the box that Messi just can’t get on the end of. He would have had a goal had he been able to reach it. He wants a penalty, but his pleas fall on deaf ears.
49′ Sylvinho with a dangerous cross from the left wing and Eto’o tries to pounce on it. Van der Sar comes off his line, though, and takes it before Eto’o can get his brace.
48′ Henry gets into the box and he turns Ferdinand inside-out as he moves gracefully in the penalty area. He fires it on goal, but Van der Sar makes a tremendous kick-save. The finish left a bit to be desired, but that was a beautiful move to get around Ferdinand.
46′ United kick off and we’re underway! Barca tried to play some mindgames as they were late getting back on the pitch. Park has moved out to the left and Rooney will move over to the right. Rooney loses it cheaply to Sylvinho and this half is starting out much the same way as the first half ended for United.
46′ Tevez is warming up on the sidelines and he’s probably going to come on. Anderson will be sacrificed, and you can’t really argue with that decision. Anderson did nothing in the first half.
46′ In 2006, Barca won by a score of 2-1 and their first goal in those Finals was from Eto’o. Looks like Barcelona have history on their side, too.
46′ Well, there is precedent for this match. In 1999, Manchester United went down to an early goal from Mario Basler of Bayern Munich. They spent most of the match behind by that 1-0 score until they got two quick goals in stoppage time. Will history repeat itself?
Well, most people thought that Barcelona would control the action and that Manchester United would play for a goal on the counterattack. In the opening moments of the match, though, it was the other way around. As such, Barcelona jumped out to an early 1-0 lead and, if they keep passing the ball the way that they’re doing right now, then that scoreline could very well be the final tally. United need to do better when they get the ball, and they need to cut down on their sloppy giveaways. We’ll see what changes, either tactical or personnel-wise, United make for the second half.
45′ + 1 One minute will be added on. I would have thought there would be more, what with Valdes’ injury. Sir Alex will probably take it, though, as United need to get to halftime down by only one. Iniesta slips it into the box for a jumping Henry, but it’s just over his head. Van der Sar takes it and there’s the whistle!
45′ Messi makes a great run down the left, and sends a hard cross/shot at Van der Sar. He spills it, but there’s no one around him to jump on the rebound. The ball must be in his head since Van der Sar never drops those.
44′ Messi and Iniesta do a one-two on the edge of the United penalty area, and Iniesta sends an audacious back-heel into the box, but it’s nowhere near Messi.
43′ Carrick sends it long down the left to Ronaldo. Valdes has to come a long way to kick it away.
41′ Rare giveaway from Barca and Park is there to take it. He gets it back from Ronaldo but then falls down on the edge of the box and gives it away. I think Sir Alex will be looking at some changes at halftime. Park, Giggs, Anderson, and Rooney have been virtually non-existent.
39′ Rooney and Evra get crossed up and Rooney gives it away. Rooney’s been very quiet today, as well.
38′ Messi tries to chip the ball past Ferdinand to Henry, but Ferdinand makes a nice little backheel pass to Vidic, who gets it away from danger.
37′ Puyol gets behind Evra, but his cross into the box is poor. Ronaldo tries to key the counterattack and Toure challenges him with a hard tackle. Ronaldo wants the foul, but no dice.
36′ Pique has an excellent chance on the corner as gets in front of goal but just misses the ball with his head.
35′ Puyol comes forward and wins a corner as Vidic gives away the corner. They play it short and Messi sends it in from the top right edge of the box. Evra heads it away and it’ll be another corner.
34′ The match has slowed down, considerably, since the Eto’o goal. Barca seem content to pass Manchester United to death, and Man Utd. look sloppy and reluctant to take too many chances.
32′ Nice run from Evra as he makes the overlapping run with Rooney and fires a cross into the center of the box. Pique has it well scouted, though, and heads it away.
30′ Barca are stroking the ball around the pitch without any problems at all. It’s like they’re on the training ground out there.
29′ They play it short and get a throw after Park knocks it away. Shaky header by Vidic back to his keeper and Van der Sar does well to get it to Evra. Very poor effort from Vidic today.
28′ Messi wins a free kick after Vidic and Carrick both take him down. This one will be from about 40 yards out.
27′ Xavi takes it and fires a great free kick that just ekes wide of the corner post. Van der Sar had it covered, but it was close.
26′ Anderson gives away a free kick in a dangerous area as he knocks Iniesta to the ground. Barcelona will have it from about 30 yards out.
25′ More nice passing from Barca as Messi threads it through down the left to Henry. He gets closed down well by O’Shea and Barca have to reset their offense.
23′ Giggs sends in the corner, but Ronaldo hits his header over the crossbar.
22′ Long pass from Carrick and Rooney just keeps it from going out down the left. Rooney tries to cross it, but it’s out for a corner.
21′ Valdes is down on the pitch and receiving treatment. Looks like Park caught a bit of Valdes’ knee.
20′ Nice one-two between Park and Anderson. The pass to Park and it’s just out of his reach. He runs at it, but Valdes makes a great slide to get it away without fouling Park in the box. Ronaldo comes back and tries a shot from long range, but it’s just wide of the far post.
19′ Messi gets it and makes a run towards the box. He sends a rocket of a shot and it’s just over the crossbar. Van der Sar shakes his head disapprovingly, and I think the ball is definitely playing tricks on him.
17′ Giggs actually has the better angle, but I think we know who’s taking this one. Oh well, I was wrong. Giggs takes it and his effort gets around the wall but it curls well over the crossbar.
16′ Passing clinic from Barcelona as they knock it around the pitch easily. Ronaldo gets it deep and he cuts into the box on Pique. The former United defender knocks him to the ground, and that’s a yellow card for Pique. He would have been off had Toure not been in the area. Ronaldo will have a chance from less than 30 yards out.
13′ Messi goes down on the edge of the box, but no call from the ref.
12′ Talk about a change in momentum. United were in total control and then they got hit on the counterattack.
11′ United are shell-shocked and they give away a corner. Xavi tries to send it to an uncovered Messi on the edge of the box, but he can’t quite get to it. That was a great chance for the Argentine! It trickles past Puyol as well and they looked like they missed out on another chance. United seem intent on giving them more chances, though, as Carrick nearly gives it away in his own territory. Vidic then fires his clearance right at Anderson. Fortunately for Vidic, he gets it back and kicks it away.
10′ GOAL!! Barcelona hit United with a quick counterattack as Iniesta threads it into the box for Eto’o. He gets around Vidic easily and he squeezes it past Van der Sar at the near post! Van der Sar will be upset about getting beaten to the near post, but Eto’o was so close that he probably would have scored anyway.
8′ Rooney nearly gives it away, but Evra is there to take it. He gets it into the box for Ronaldo, and he chests it down and fires it on goal. He has all kinds of space at the far post, but it bounces just wide of the mark. That was close.
7′ As I say it, Ronaldo tries a long-range shot from about 40 yards out and it’s just off the mark. I bet Barca fans were holding their breaths right there.
6′ Long pass down the left for Rooney. He works on Puyol and the Barca skipper does well to close him down. Apparently, the ball is made of some new material that causes it to move around a lot. I guess we can expect to see a lot of long-range efforts.
4′ Rooney sends in a long pass to Park, who gets behind the defense. The flag stays down, but Park can’t reach it in time. It’s out for a goal-kick.
3′ Corner goes out to Rooney on the edge of the box, but he shanks his chance wide of the post.
2′ Can Ronaldo come through here? He sends in an excellent effort that dives in front of Valdes. The keeper makes a great save and Park can’t get it on the rebound. He probably should have put that one away. It’s a corner kick for United.
1′ Barca kick off and we’re underway! Hold onto your horses, ladies and gents! Massimo Busacca is our ref. Shaky moment for Barca early on as Valdes gets his signals crossed with Sylvinho and United have a throw-in deep in Barca territory. Barca get it away, but Anderson wins a free kick from about 35 yards out.
0′ The players come out from the tunnel and the atmosphere is absolutely electric. The UEFA anthem plays and, for some reason, Andrea Bocelli keeps singing on top of it. I daresay, do we have a UEFA remix in the works?
0′ Is that Jose Mourinho singing? Nope, its Andrea Bocelli. He’s fantastic.
0′ Meanwhile, who gets the loudest round of boos from the Manchester United fans? Is it former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry who terrorized Manchester United for so many years in the Premiership? Is it Leo Messi, a player most United fans consider to be a pretender to the throne of “World’s Greatest Player?” Is it Dimitar Berbatov? Nope. None of the above. It’s UEFA President Michel Platini. I guess that’s understandable.
0′ Looks like a beautiful day in Rome. It’s warm and slightly cloudy, so the sun shouldn’t wreck too much havoc on the keepers. There’s some commotion about the quality of the pitch, though. Pep Guardiola wanted it heavily watered and Sir Alex Ferguson kept his players on the pitch for warmups longer than usual. We’ll see if any of that plays a role in the match.
0′ The Chammmmmmmm-pionnnnnnnnnns!
0′ Also, Gary Neville doesn’t get in the squad, but Fabio Capello saw fit to recall him for England. I guess that tells you all you need to know about England’s right-back situation.
0′ By the way, Dimitar Berbatov has stated that, in light of his horrendous effort in the F.A. Cup Semis, he’s unsure about taking a penalty today. I’m sure that’s exactly what you want to hear from your 30-million quid striker.
0′ With the way the Champions League has expanded over the years, winning it two years in a row would be a remarkable accomplishment. Is it more impressive than winning a Treble while holding a +100 goal difference in all competitions? I’m not sure about that…
0′ Who got the loudest round of boos from the Barcelona fans? Who else? Cristiano Ronaldo. They’ll hate him even more if he goes to Real Madrid next season.
0′ Whose absences will loom larger? Barcelona will miss Alves’ crossing and marauding runs down the right, while Manchester United will miss Fletcher’s physical play and industry.
0′ This is the fourth Champions League Final at the Stadio Olimpico. English sides have won two of the previous three, which bodes well for United. Then again, those two prior Championship teams were Liverpool and Liverpool. So maybe that doesn’t bode well for United after all.
0′ Who gets more camera time tonight? Carlos Tevez or David Beckham? You know Goldenballs is going to be at the game.
0′ I’ll predict a 2-1 victory for Manchester United.
0′ I’ve gone through all the matchups in my head. I’ve made so many arguments and counterarguments for both teams. Despite all of that, I can honestly say that I have no idea who is going to win this match. I could see Barcelona having problems with Manchester United’s counter-attacks and set-plays. I could see Manchester United suffering a defensive lapse and giving up a goal to one of Barcelona’s many playmakers. I could see it being a cagey affair with both teams holding back. I could see it going to penalties. Ugh! I just want the match to start!
0′ I can’t wait for this match to start! I was so excited last night, I could barely sleep. I’ve been looking forward to this ever since the semifinals after Manchester United knocked out Arsenal and Barcelona upended Chelsea.
0′ Welcome everyone to Soccerlens’ live coverage of the UEFA Champions League Final! I’m Victor and I’ll be your liveblogger. I’m watching this match on ESPN. However, this match is available, on-line, at ESPN360. For information on how to access that fine service, feel free to consult this article. Click here for other, free, options.
If you take away the first ten minutes of this match, Barcelona completely dominated the match and were never in any danger of losing. Barcelona completely outclassed Manchester United and thoroughly deserved to win. They proved that their eye-popping statistics were not deceptive and that they were every bit as good as their reputation suggested. It didn’t matter that they were playing with a patch-work defense. It didn’t matter that some of their best players were hurt or out of form. It didn’t matter that their keeper got injured early in the first half. They beat the defending champions decisively, and there can be no complaints from United.
It was a surprisingly poor effort from Manchester United as they started well but then seemed to lose all their steam once Eto’o scored. They gave the ball away cheaply, they were sloppy with their passing, they had no answer for Iniesta, who dominated the action in midfield. Most importantly, they seemed like they had a great matchup against Puyol and Sylvinho on the flanks, but Rooney and Ronaldo did nothing against Barca’s second-choice fullbacks. In the end, they have a lot to be proud of as they’ve had a great season. It’s a shame that this season will probably be remembered more for the failure in the Champions League. By any standard, they’ve had a great season, winning the Premiership, the Carling Cup, and the World Club Championship. However, they came up short in their most important match of the season, and they have no one to blame but themselves.
Man of the Match:
How different things might have been had Iniesta not been fit to play. Instead, he turned in a dominant performance in midfield and showed the world why he may be the most unsung player on this team. He pulled the strings on offense and seemed like he did whatever he wanted on the pitch. Xavi, Messi, Eto’o, and Henry all had their moments, as did Puyol and Pique, but Iniesta was the best player. As for United, O’Shea actually turned in a decent performance, as did Evra. Ronaldo, in what may have been his final appearance in a United shirt, looked like he was going to win it all by himself in the first ten minutes, but then disappeared. He was hardly alone in that regard.