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Your 2009 UEFA Champions League Winners Are… Barcelona

I know we’ve done our fair share of lauding Barcelona on The Offside recently, and I know that has annoyed a couple of people. So if anyone doesn’t want to read any more of the same I recommend clicking away now.

As you should know by now (if not then where have you been?) it finished Barcelona 2-0 Man Utd in Rome. Here are the goals....

With the game just ten minutes old, Samuel Eto’o turned Nemanja Vidic inside out and toe-poked past van der Sar:

And then in the 70th minute Messi scored. With his head. Past van der Sar (who’s about 10.5″ taller I think):

All the pre-match talk was about Barcelona’s creaky defence. But it was Vidic and Ferdinand who looked suspect. This game made it a little harder to make the case for those two as the best central defensive pairing in the world. In contrast, Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol were man-mountains at the back.

But it was midfield where Barcelona really lost it. Ably assisted by Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta absolutely ran the show in midfield. I was keeping an eye on Xavis’ passing stats (vie UEFA’s MatchCentre thingy) throughout the game, and the numbers tell you all you need to know. Xavi completed 66 out of 71 passes for a 93% completion rate, with Iniesta just behind (56/65 so 86%).
Xavi not only made the most passes and completed the most passes, he also did more running than anyone else on the pitch by covering 11,369 metres. So pretty hard to find an alternative Man of the Match (although Pique got a mention in the LiveBlog).

Man Utd’s plan was obviously to try and contain Barcelona, as evidenced by playing hardworkers Rooney and Park on the flanks. But that basically backfired and allowed Barcelona a little too much possession while neutering Utd’s usual attacking verve. By the time Fergie switched things around it was all too late.

And so Barcelona are European Champions, netting Pep Guardiola an historic treble (first Spanish team to take Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey) in his debut season. Best of all, they did it by playing beautiful beautiful football and with a fair share of homegrown players in the team. No wonder Michel Platini looked so happy while handing out the winners’ medals.

So congratulations to Barcelona, the very worthy winners of the 2009 Champions League.

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