Iker Casillas, one of the best keepers in the world, shipped 5 goals whilst Mesut Ozil who I personally advocated we sign was a ghost, totally anonymous until his name was called to be replaced by Lassana Diarra at half time and most disappointing for me was Ronaldo who tried in vain against a Barcelona team who appeared determined to put to bed any question over who is the better player Ronaldo or Messi.
Whilst Barcelona were awesome I had an overriding thought in my head the whole time whilst I was watching, Barcelona wouldn’t be able to embarrass United like that. It may be the bias in me being a United fan but even looking at it logically I think it is nigh impossible.
People will instantly point to the Champions League final and no I’m not suffering from selective amnesia but Sir Alex has always insisted that night he made a mistake and that he wouldn’t make it again and I agree. Just a year earlier we faced Barcelona and beat them over two legs. For all the talk of Sir Alex being ‘tactically inept’ we emerged victorious having missed a penalty in the first leg and created chances in both games as well as defending astutely (rather than defending for our lives as some people will make out).
People will point to Barca having improved and us weakening with the loss of Ronaldo and Tevez but more over this is about how we set up in the game. Last season Jose Mourinho managed to beat Guardiola’s Barcelona over two legs with arguably a weaker team. His team saw less of the ball but defended solidly, took their chances in the final third and most importantly they pressed high up the field, pressuring Pique and Puyol but Madrid did none of this.
Benzema, Ronaldo and Di Maria needed to be their first line of defence but they allowed Barca to get to their midfield unchallenged and it was over from there, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and Messi vs Ozil, Khedira and Xabi was a miss match. Whilst Khedira is known for his engine getting up and down the pitch he was happless whilst Alonso’s lack of mobility was again highlighted despite his good ball retention and distribution. Things only got marginally better when Diarra came on and attempted to chase the ball down.
Last night Mourinho perhaps under pressure from the fans and management at a club who turn their nose up at the kind of football that has lead Jose to success to success against Barca with both Inter and Chelsea, abandoned a tried and tested formula and the result was a humbling 5-0 defeat.
I think it is pretty obvious trying to match Barcelona will be your undoing, whilst Madrid didn’t see enough of the ball to attempt it last night, Arsenal saw it last season. It’s a mistake I wouldn’t expect Sir Alex to make, people often complain that when we play a big team we often aim to contain them and catch them on the break rather than out play them but it has been shown to be a fruitful tactic.
Again there will be people that say it is impossible to stop them, their team is too good blah blah blah but it has been done before and I’m pretty sure if you go out to face them with the right set up (as well as a talented set of players such as ours despite people’s claims of it being the worst team we’ve had!) it can be done.
Not saying that Barcelona aren’t the best team in the world, anyone who tries to refute this seriously needs their eyes testing neither am I saying that beating Barca is as easy as it may appear that I am suggesting what I am say is that beating Barcelona isn’t impossible, it has been done before and whilst there is no blueprint it is clear certain tactics work well against them.
That being said I hope we don’t face them later this season and I’m made to look a mug!