[REPORT CARD] Lionel Messi -- no surprise -- was the best of an outstanding Barcelona team that beat Manchester United,
3-1, in the UEFA Champions League final. Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney grades the performances of players on both teams ...
6 Victor Valdes (Spain)
6 Dani Alves (Brazil)
7 Gerard Pique (Spain)
5 Javier Mascherano (Argentina)
6 Eric Abidal (France)
6 Sergio Busquets (Spain)
7 Xavi (Spain)
7 Andres Iniesta (Spain)
6 Pedro (Spain)
8 Lionel Messi (Argentina)
7 David Villa (Spain)
NR Seydou Keita (Mali) for David Villa in 86th minute
NR Carles Puyol (Spain) for Dani Alves in 88th minute
NR Ibrahim Afellay (Netherlands) for Pedro in the 90th minute
6 Edwin van der Sar (Netherlands)
4 Fabio da Silva (Brazil)
5 Nemanja Vidic (Serbia)
4 Rio Ferdinand (England)
3 Fabrice Evra (France)
5 Michael Carrick (England)
3 Antonio Valencia (Ecuador)
5 Park Ji-Sung (South Korea)
4 Ryan Giggs (Wales)
6 Wayne Rooney (England)
3 Javier Hernandez (Mexico)
5 Nani (Portugal) for Fabio da Silva in 69th minute
4 Paul Scholes (England) for Michael Carrick in the 77th minute
I would rate Rooney a bit higher, it was obvious he was playing his heart out all the game...he never quit..sorry that some of his mates were looking like school boys on the pitch. I did not see Messi as playing any harder than Rooney, admittedly, the Barca players all demonstrated such poise an talent in the passing, recieving dept. it was beautiful to see...how the game is supposed to be played, get an opening, anyone of them can an will burn you with a goal...Hernandez an Valencia were simply outclassed an seemed to be perplexed as to what to do...all one has to do is look at the face of Sir Alex after the game...he was had the look of total defeat on his face. I am a Man U fan, however, that being said, I am a soccer fan first..an really loved to see the contrast of playing style between two great teams...Giggs is a player that I admire so much for his many years of top level play,,,but, it was evident, according to my son's statement, "his age is caught up with him, it shows in his speed of play"..the pace of the game was very fast for most of the game..what seemed to be the speed of play from the start a bit fast paced an expected to slow down, did not appear to happen...the controlled passing of Barca kept Man U on the run just trying to obtain possession, keeping them from getting a breather all thru the game...Hernadez was just out of sync with his mids an timing of runs was just not good...two different styles of play, I still would like to see Messi play in the Premier league just to see how he would do with another team out of his element of Barca before I judge him to be the best in the World....
The real Champions League final(s) took place a couple of weeks ago... it happened between the two Spanish Giants. For the life of me, for over 35 years, I cannot figure out why Americans are so in love with British teams... but that is a given. That said, most American comments and perspectives are way overblown and biased toward teams from England (just as you'd expect from actual citizens from England to be biased about their teams), they're skewed toward England teams. The continual bias becomes laughable. Man U was nowhere near the quality of Barca - and I stated that before the game. Why is is that all the American commentators on Fox were rooting for the English... in one case, I think it was Eric Wynalda, said he thought Barca would win, but it pained him to predict this????!!!! Was Brad Friedel some sort of England Citizenship wanna be? Congrats to Barca. Mickey Rooney is nowhwere near the player David Villa is... even with Villa's poor last half of the year... he was the most prolific scorer in the world from 2005-2010 (IFFHS stats), he was far better than Fernando Torres in those years, but when FT went to England, suddenly, in England, and in the England worshipping segment (most) of the US, FT was the next best thing to sliced bread... only because he was exposed to England fans... it just shows that most Americans and English don't really know players outside their realm. Well done Pedrito, and Messi... and true MVP Xavi and Iniesta. I've been watching Messi for 6 years and saying he's the best, since about 3 years ago... but he is no equal to Pele, maybe and probably Maradona, but not Pele (at least not at this point of his career)... I've seen all 3 play, including Cruyff and Beckenbauer and DiStefano... can you imagine, a 17 year old scores two goals in a world cup final? And he had the whole package.... everything...Messi does not, nor did Maradona. Ok, digression over... Barca superior. I will tip my hat to MU... then did not come out like the teams did against spain in the wc... all those teams played spain in a defensive shell and brutally fouling the spaniards...giving us all ugly anti-football and ruining what would have been beautiful games to treasure... I tip my hat to MU and Al Fergie for trying to play real football against Barca. The 3 (4) ever top teams are, in no particular order: Brazil 1970, Spain 2008 (thru 2010), Barca 2010-2011. MU, you have nothing to be shamed by, you were beaten by one of the greatest teams in history.
With those ratings you would think the score was 8 - 0. Barcelona has perfected the game of keepaway - just moving the ball from side to side until they get a lost coverage - then slot to that man. Their number of shots per pass has got to be minuscule compared to the rest of Europe. I got bored watching it, and I hope the rest of Europe does not adopt this style. It is very effective with the players they have, but I really missed seeing good wing play, missed seeing players going for the ball in the air, missed good hard soccer - thought I was watching ballet when Barca had the ball. That said they are undoubtedly the best team in the world under the current rules (tackling). Anyone who plays them hard enough to disrupt their play, gets baited into a late tackle and plays with 10 men. Can't stand it.
Can't stand it because it's not "good hard soccer"? Give me a break. Go watch the thousands of other teams that play "hard" and leave the beautiful Barca game to fans who can appreciate artistry, talent and pure class. As for the current tackling rules, yes, definitely, let's change 'em back. What this game needs is more hard tackling. Who cares if Messi is hacked out of football by the time he's 28? Hey, nobody missed Marco Van Basten, did they?
Obviously there is no such thing as a "9" or "10" if Messi's performance didn't earn one.
Quite honestly, I think Rooney was the only Manu U player who actually wanted to play this game. He gets a 9. The rest are not worth rating.
"Their number of shots per pass has got to be minuscule compared to the rest of Europe."
Assuming Man U qualifies as belonging to the rest of Europe, let's take a look at some numbers from yesterday. Barcelona had 772 passes and 19 shots -- about 1 shot per 40 passes. Man U made 419 passes and 4 shots -- about 1 shot per 104 passes.
ManU and Real showed they can completely outclass every other side except Barca, and Barca made both of them look silly. Like I said - Barca are the best team in the world, but I just enjoy more diversity in the game.
Once again, the numerical player ratings are a farce. Mascherano was steady in defense. For Man Utd, Rooney was quality throughout. As far as Real Madrid is concerned, their "special one" manager did his players no favors. He just pouted on the bench when things weren't going his way until he was sent off for his negative attitude. Sir Alex, whom I have no great love for, actually tried to get his players to play. At one point, TV showed him holding his arms apart and shouting, "Spread out, spread out." Contrast that to Mourinho's bad boy act, not to mention Guardiola's touch line behavior, and we can see who the real managers are and who just blows smoke. Real might be able to win a Copa del Rey, but never La Liga and certainly not the Campions League so long as Mourinho thinks he's the one who actually wins matches instead of his players.
Tom M, here's one American who is not so enamored of the English teams.
I do agree that Rooney deserves a higher rating than given here for his play against Barca. And, I appreciate that only Valencia tried to win by force.