While discussing features for the CL final, I mentioned to Brett I might like to write from Barca’s point of view.
I often wonder what other teams think of United; what threats they will face, what they feel they can exploit. When I read this interview with Xavi, one of my favourite players to watch, and undoubtedly one of the most important players of the last five years, I got a pretty good idea of the regard footballers can hold for other footballers. But then, the global footballing regard (see here, here and here) for Paul Scholes is pretty well-known (oh ok, while we’re talking Scholesy). What is less well-known (at least by me) is what the Barcelona fans will make of a final against Manchester United.
I would like to think that we represent the team most likely to spoil their party. Despite a season dotted with sub-par performances, I still think we’re the most complete and threatening team Barcelona could face. But what do they think? This is a rough approximation of the Barca voice, as they dream of glory.
We’re going to walk it. We’re the best club team on the planet (ever?). And to sweeten the odds in our favour, United aren’t even as good as they were the last time we met in a champion’s league final. We have just got better. United have become workmanlike, we have become gods.
Our camp is confident, and not quietly. We are polishing our brass on the eve of a battle we know we will win. We overcame a potentially tricky tie with Real, causing Jose to soil his underwear and spill his marbles in the process. We were an irresistable force against a petulant, inferior and thrashing object.
We believe we stand on moral and philosophical football high ground. We will wear UNICEF on our shirts, be a team, attacking and defending with all 11 players. We will pass and move, create triangles, delight the eye. We will be serene and represent the one, true football. The history of the game has been fashioned to this point, and this tie will solidify the triumph of the one best footballing way. Not even Manchester united, the great marauding English team can touch this Barcelona. This Barcelona with a hundred Jack Wilshires.
On the pitch we will expect the lions share of the ball. We will hog it hungrily and artfully. Manchester united will panic in the face of such fluency. They will be choked of possession. We will easily find cracks to pass our way through, we will make those cracks into canyons. United, although quick, will be made to look sluggish. We will be two up by half time. Puyol and Pique will push up around the centre circle, not afraid of exposure. Our team flexes its sinews from back to front. Passion in defence, supreme creativity in midfield, ruthlessness in attack.
What have we to fear? Nothing. We will be wary of the part of Manchester United that has made them the less romantic of the two teams. Their tightness amd organisation in European games. Their psychological strength, determination. We will admire their work ethic, but we will match it. There are threats to our intricacy: Park and Valencia will want the ball. Wayne Rooney will chase it, Vidic will suck it from the sky. Manchester United will try to defy barca; and they are quick and capable in any one moment. They are underdogs, and the English love their underdogs. But this is a game for maestros.
For Barcelona, the outcome is decided. Manchester United have had an easy ride through the competition. The semi finals were a joke. We have proved ourselves to be worthy champions already by the way we embarassed Real. United have reached the end of their run: their prowess has peaked and they will be soundly beaten.
We are Barcelona, the finest football team on the planet.