Saturday, 28 May 2011

Barcelona vs Manchester United - Match Ratings

By Shane Thomas



Has quietly developed from Barcelona's weak link into one of Spain's finest keepers. Raced off his line to make some crucial interceptions when the game was still alive. He may be forgotten when this game is talked about but Valdes played his part.


Is a key part of the Barcelona attack, and surprisingly failed to make the inroads that we've been so used to seeing. Also missed a good chance in the second-half and was substituted for Puyol late on.


Many English pundits identified him as the soft centre of the Barcelona defence. These people obviously haven't watched much Spanish football this season. After a slow start in Spain, his conversion from midfield enforcer to defensive sentry has been one of Barcelona's many success stories.


One stumble against Rooney apart, he was faultless at the back. The smoothest operator you could wish to see in defence. Held things together even without "big brother" Puyol.


Maybe the most remarkable football story of the season. From having surgery to save his life, to lifting the Champions League trophy 71 days later. And he had a fine game, keeping Valencia quiet.


Maybe he shouldn't have been playing at all, after his indiscretions in the semi-final. But he's a key cog in this side and is the conduit that keeps the ball flowing from the defence to the midfield.

XAVI (8)

When Barca were in control, Xavi was at the hub. The ringmaster of the passing carousel was at his most sublime, summed up perfectly by journalist Dileep Premachandran, who tweeted, "Even Casanova can't have been as good as Xavi at making a pass."


Operating in a slightly deeper position dulled "the glowworm's" light somewhat. Came to life more in the second half, but still made a substantial contribution. The interplay between himself and Xavi was at times majestic.


Fast going from being the best in the world to one of the best of all time. To enter the pantheon of the game's legends you have to shape the biggest occasions. Well this was Messi's match. Operating in a second-striker position, he constantly found space and used it to destroy United by scoring his 53rd goal of an astonishing season. After Xavi spun them dizzy, Messi delivered the knockout blow. Count yourself lucky to have been around in the same era as this man.


Always the underrated member of the Barca arsenal. But Guardiola's an unashamed lover of "Pedrito". United didn't take the warning he gave them after missing a good chance early on, when he then opened the scoring. Another wonderful production of the La Masia youth program


Has looked like he's been running out of steam after a busy last 12 months. And failed to make the most of his opportunities when Barcelona were in the ascendency. However, his goal to seal the win was heavenly. And for that alone, Villa gets a tick.



The Dutchman proved me wrong when I said this would be a season too far for him. But this might have been a game too far. He looked his age on the first two Barcelona goals, but could do nothing about the third. Sad way for a top professional to leave the sport.


Did well in the first half, but he broke down with cramp on 64 minutes after being pushed to the limit of physical endurance by Barcelona's slick passing & movement. It was a microcosm of the match.


Was lucky that Pedro didn't punish him after he was caught dozing. But defended well thereafter. But like his teammates, he ended up drowning under the relentless tide of the Catalan attack.


Was his usual formidable self and had to make a number of crucial blocks. But he's never been the most astute of defenders, and his problems organising Evra were ruthlessly exploited for Pedro & Messi's goals.


Has struggled to regain his best form after a woeful World Cup last summer. For such an experienced player his decision making for Barca's first two goals was nowhere near good enough. We may have already seen the best of the Frenchman.


Had been earmarked as a key component of United's attacking strategy, but was left having to defend for most of the game. And not particularly well either. He was lucky to not pick up a yellow card for repeated fouling, and his attacking thrusts were negligible.


Has looked a lost soul since the final of 2009. Carrick said that it took him two years to recover his confidence after that match. Well, all that's happened since then is he stumbled off the passing carousel, wondered around football pitches in a daze for two years, only to stumble back onto Barca's dreaded fairground ride. Xavi & Iniesta spun Carrick dizzy yet again, and he was hauled off for Nani.


Did well in the build-up to Rooney's goal, but his distribution was uncharacteristically poor. This was an occasion when his club needed him to be the smartest man on the pitch - as he's looked so often this season - but he looked lost like many of his teammates.


Even United's "Duracell Bunny" looked to be running on empty by the end. His industry was an important part of the game plan to disrupt Barca. He failed to stop Messi causing havoc and faded badly once Xavi & Iniesta took control


Like Jon Walters in the FA Cup Final, Rooney was caught between trying to help out his team at the back and supplementing Hernandez in attack. But Rooney has real class about him, and the way he worked & took his goal should not be forgotten. It was United's one moment of quality in the match.


Chicharito needs to consider this a learning experience. One could sympathise with him as he was often isolated up front. But on the rare occasions he did get the ball, he struggled to affect the play. And this was not a time to have an off-day. Hernandez is still a bit of a greenhorn at this level and his time will come again.

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