I kept meaning to write this yesterday, but I went to a Ben Folds concert instead. Priorities, I guess. Anyway, yesterday was the UEFA Champions League Final. For the Americans reading this, it’s the equivalent of the Super Bowl, only bigger. This year’s final pitted Spanish giants Barcelona against the English side Manchester United. Barca got into the game on a couple controversial calls in the semifinals against the English version of the Yankees, Chelsea. That was alright with me, since I don’t like Chelsea or the Yankees. Manchester United got through after ousting Arsenal, their rivals from London.
Going into the Final, Barca had plenty of questions. They were without defenders Eric Abidal and Dani Alves due to suspension. No one was sure if semi-final hero Iniesta or the lethal Thierry Henry was healthy enough to play. Everyone was questioning whether Lionel Messi could withstand the physical English style of play. All in all, I thought Manchester was set up to win their second straight Champions League title. Right before kickoff I sent a text saying I thought Man U would take it 3-2.
If the game was 10 minutes long, I may have been correct. Man U just hammered Barcelona in every facet of the match. They looked phenomenal, culminating in a near goal off of a Cristiano Ronaldo free kick. From that point on, however, it was a one sided affair. The tables turned almost immediately when Samuel Eto’o finished off a counter attack and gave the Catalans the lead in the 10th minute.
Barcelona would press the attack for the remainder of the game and Man U never looked like they would threaten. Carlos Puyol absolutely neutralized Ronaldo for the duration of the game. He frustrated the Portugese international so much that Ronaldo was shown a yellow card for persistant, obvious fouls. I’m not a big fan of Ronaldo’s, I think he’s unnecessarily flashy on routine plays and he tries to win the game by himself, but I can’t deny that he’s one of the best players in the world. Puyol made him look like he was in high school.
In the 70th minute, Barcelona sealed the win when Messi finished off a beautiful cross to put the Spanish club up 2-0. At that point, it was all academic.
Messi was voted player of the game, though my vote went to Puyol. Overall, it was Barca’s 3rd Champions League title. Congratulations to them and their fans.