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UEFA Champions League Final Recap: Messi-Merizing

Did I get my nails done? Huh...
Did I get my nails done? Huh...

Perfection. Some people spend their whole lives trying to achieve perfection, but never come close. Perfection can be something that may never be achieved, but some people in this world, the people that rise above the fray, will never stop trying. And those are the people that come pretty darn close to perfection. In football terms, what is perfection? Is it a game where you never miss a pass? A game where you never miss a chance? A game where you shut the opponent out? Who knows, but what we saw Saturday night (or afternoon) from FC Barcelona was pretty damn close to perfect as they outclassed English champions Manchester United, 3-1 to win their 3rd Champions League title in the last 5 years. And leading the way was undoubtedly the best player in the world, Lionel Messi.

There had been so much hype around the final, pitting the two best teams in Europe over the past few years. And when hype is generated, it often fails to live up to expectations. Not so this match. It had been said that the Red Devils had learned from the mistakes they made two years ago in Rome (for all those people living under a rock, Barca won 2-0), and for the first ten minutes, it looked like they did. They pressed Barcelona very high up the pitch, and Barcelona was looking very rattled, very much like two years ago. But at the 10th minute (again, like two years ago), Barca started to take control of the match. It all started with a 1-2 by Messi and Villa that petered out for a corner, reminding Man Utd of the threat that they possess. From then on, the Red Devils were gradually pushed back. Pedro should've really done better at the 16th minute when Xavi crossed, but he fired it wide of Man Utd keeper Edwin Van Der Sar.

Barcelona were starting to dominate the game now and Villa had a crack outside the box just fly outside of Van Der Sar's post. Some desperate defending had saved Man Utd, but it seemed only a matter of time. And so it came to pass on the 27th minute, when Xavi broke and sent a beautiful pass to a wide-open Pedro, who beat Van Der Sar at his near post. 1-0 Barca. Barcelona continued to press forward, eager to kill the game off early when a sloppy throw in from their own end allowed Rooney to play a one-two with Giggs before beating Victor Valdes with a sidefoot finish. The Catalans were unnerved, but they nearly went in at halftime ahead when Villa's pass across the face of goal just eluded Messi. 1-1 at the half.

The English champions were rejuvenated and raring to go when the second half started, and why not? They had been outplayed badly, and yet the score was tied. Barcelona though, decided they would up the pace even more. They pressed forward early in the second half, moving the ball about much faster than they did in the first half. United were stretched, and Lionel Messi, having tortured United in the first half, delivered his coup de grace.

Barcelona vs Manchester United 3-1 (Gol de Messi) 28.5.2011 (via FirstGoals)

2-1 to Barcelona, and they weren't gonna stop there. They sought to kill off the game, and only Edwin Van Der Sar prevented them from doing so. Like the first goal though, it was only a matter of time, and again it was Messi who was the catalyst. He skinned Nani on the right and burst into the box, leading to Busquets laying it off for David Villa, who curled home from just outside the box. 3-1, and it was game over.

Messi vs nani ( Final Champions League 2011) (via 6292coly)

To their credit, Manchester United did not give up and almost snatched a goal back immediately after the Villa goal. Barcelona had eased off the pedal though, knowing that the hard work was done. By the time the final whistle blew, everyone had agreed that it was among the best performances in European club football history. 3-1 to Barcelona, and a 4th European Cup was on it's way to Catalunya.


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