Thoughts on the line up:
- With Puyol out, Chicharito (Hernandez) may have a field day against Mascherano deputizing at centre back.
- Park Ji-Sung is going to be United’s most important player today. Carrick won’t do much to stop Barca in the middle of the field so it will be left to the Korean to disrupt Xavi and Co.
Barcelona look tense and uncertain! With no Puyol governing the line you’re going to see Pique forced into that role and the first time they had to push forward a bit Mascherano was ball watching. They were fortunate Mascherano was already just high enough for Chicharito to be offside.
I really thought there was a mistake they they showed the lineups and had Giggs in the middle with Ji-Sung Park outside, and while they do seem to have Giggs and Park switching a bit, it’s mainly Park outside to neutralize Alves with United hoping Carrick and Giggs can clog the middle. Just can’t say them getting the better of Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta. That’s been a knock on Alex Ferguson: his rigid 4-4-2 gets hammered by teams playing three in the middle of the field.
While the first ten were all United, the next ten are all Barcelona as they’ve really hit their stride as they control the middle of the field and Alves and Abidal are both comfortable enough now to shoot forward from the outside back positions.
1-0 Barcelona (Pedro)
It’s becoming apparent that Carrick and Giggs in the middle of the field against Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets is incredibly naive on Ferguson’s part. This is a shredding and the first goal is a direct result of United not being able to compete in the middle of the field.
Stats after 30 mins: Barcelona have 66% of possession and have completed 265 passes to United’s 100.
1-1 – Rooney equalizes
Fantastic goal. Just what United need to do to be successfull. Rio Ferdinand wins balls back by pinching on a Barca throw in and quick interplay puts Barca on their heels with a great finish by Rooney. Game on!
United need to work out the middle of the field. When Vidic and Ferdinand are your most influential players you’re in trouble. It took Rio stepping forward to win a ball in midfield to get United’s move towards the equalizer started. Yes, Carrick was critical in the first give n go to release Rooney but that’s about the extent of his contribution. Same with Giggs on the second give n go with Rooney. They need to do more.
Looking at Barcelona, the thing that stands out most to me is how deep Messi is coming to the get the ball and then given how much he’s had the ball in the attacking third the lack of end product from him. He did almost score on a neat exchange with Villa but the best player in the world needs to be the best player in this game and he’s not making great use of the ball compared to his usual high standards.
2-1 Barcelona (Messi)
Guess Messi was reading this blog at half time…That goal is his bread and butter. United have to know that you cannot allow him to tee up that shot on his left foot. Evra was way too slow closing him down.
Doubt has a stranglehold on United now. They can’t get near the ball.
3-1 Barcelona (Villa)
“Welcome to the game Nani. My name’s Lionel. See ya later.” 3-1.
Scholes on for Carrick. Think we’re into the sympathy subs here. Carrick completed 28 passes. I think that’s what Xavi has this game…per minute.