Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rome UEFA Champions League Final: Barcelona Outplays Manchester United to Win Final 2-0

Rome UEFA Champions League Final: Barcelona Outplays Manchester United to Win Final 2-0

Barcelona Simply Outplayed Manchester United today in Rome to win the UEFA Champions League in a 2-0 shutout. Barcelona adds Rome to a winning streak that is now a European Capital tri-fecta that includes London, Paris and Rome. Is Madrid next?

The fact that Manchester United couldn't put one ball in the net speaks to Barcelona's perfect playing and the great shape of each Barcelona player. 7 of the 11 Barcelona starters rose up from the junior level teams.

Xavi Hernández, Barcelona's 29-year-old crowned a memorable 12 months in Rome by setting up Barça's second goal for Lionel Messi in the 2-0 win against Manchester United FC and was selected as the man of the match by the UEFA Technical Study Group, yet another personal accolade for the midfielder who was also named the player of the tournament at UEFA EURO 2008™. "I'm very happy, especially for the team and for my personal prize – we're very content," he said. "This is historic, for Barcelona and the squad."

Homegrown heroes
Xavi, one of seven homegrown players in the Catalan club's starting lineup produced by the famed academy at La Masia, encapsulates the club's philosophy and has no doubts the Blaugrana's family spirit had been a crucial factor. "I feel very comfortable; I've said for a long time that it is wonderful with these team-mates around me. We worked hard and pressured United by attacking so they wouldn't feel comfortable. Apart for the first ten minutes, we dominated most of the game."

"Xavi was outstanding, he epitomised the outstanding Barcelona midfield performance; the passing of the ball, the movement," Technical Study Group member Roy Hodgson told "There were a lot of other candidates, but Xavi was the midfield motor, ran the match and dictated the tempo. United started really well but the first goal is so important at this level. When Barcelona got that their confidence rose, Manchester United had to take more risks getting forward and that played into Barcelona's hands, especially as skilful as they are. Their defending was also very good; they quickly got back into shape and when the back four was called upon they did very well."

Hodgson reserved most praise for Barça's fluidity, explaining: "Most important of all is the tempo of their passing and their ability to change that. If you pressurise them they're very good at playing it first time and they've always got lots of players around the ball willing to receive it. But if you don't get around them they hold the ball and suck you in and the moment you come forward they pass it. They work very hard and it looks simple, but the front players and the midfielders do an awful lot of running to create space. There's so much movement from wide positions coming infield with the full-backs getting forward, and it's not easy to find an antidote to that."

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