Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Man U - Barcelona II

Van Der Sar has now saved Man U's hash twice and appears to be a bit shaken up. Barca have the foot on the gas now and the Mancunians are defending desperately, helped only by the fact that the Catalans tend to "Arsenal" it a bit, trying to dribble it into the goal rather than letting fly.

This game is an advertisement for the true nature of the game and a repudiation of the boring mush that we're frequently served up as fans. This is the reason that Chelsea will never be thought of as fondly as Arsenal, even if they've been more successful.

As I type, a Nani header flashes just wide.

If both these teams finish second in their league (Barca most likely will wind up being third), it will be a pity, even if Real Madrid and Villareal are fun to watch in their own right, just because this is how the game is meant to be played at the highest level, full of skill, inventiveness and a sense of risk. Fie on those teams that "grind" out results. Fie on you, other CL semifinal. There's a reason why Cruyff is a godhead.

This is affirmation for what we want as fans, the desire to see players attempt the fantastic, to dance with the ball.

Milito just misses connecting on a free header.

Halftime. I like the selection of Park and Tevez for Manchester. They're excellent combinations of offensive skill and defensive desire, defending from the front. I would say that they're the analogue to Iniesta, Xavi and Yaya Toure for Barca, the hod-carriers, even if the pair of Red Devils plays much further up the pitch.

Man U - Barcelona

I'm typing this with one eye on the window and the other on a tiny, ghost-filled window showing a Chinese broadcast of the Champions League match between Man U and Barcelona. It's almost a religious experience. Thus far, this game is delivering what we didn't get from the Arsenal-Barca final two years ago: two of the most attacking, talented teams in the world going at each other.

Currently it's 1-0, courtesy of two typical events:

1. Barca trying to play the ball out of the back and making a horrible giveaway.

2. Paul "Ginger Ninja" Scholes blasting a long-range shot into the upper corner.

Now creating a situation where Barcelona has to steam forward to get an equalizer while Man U tries to get a second goal to put the game to bed. Right now Little Leo Messi is the Danger Man. Every time he gets the ball you can feel everybody tense up -- he's already had one run where he beat three men and then was robbed by Van Der Sar for the equalizing goal. It's his pace when he gets going with the ball at his feet, combined with his close control, that makes him something unworldly. The thought of a team with both him and Cristiano Ronaldo is maybe too perfect to actually happen.

Cut. Parry. Thrust.