The Final Final: Barça-ManU

CL Preview: Barcelona-Manchester United, Saturday 2:45pm, Fox

For many of you, this is the big one. This is the Granddaddy of the All, but without the silly parade. For me, it’s a secondary trophy that—oh who the hell am I kidding? I’m so pumped I can’t sleep. Sure, it’s 5:30 on Thursday afternoon as I write this so I shouldn’t be asleep, but that is so beside the point.

Sure, it’s secondary, sure it’s got nothing on a single clasico, but this is a repeat of the 2009 final, style vs strength, Good vs Shrek. This is the match we’ve all been looking forward to since our souls were crushed horribly and mercilessly by Mourinho’s tactics, by Pepe’s tackles, by Busi’s diving, by the terrible aftermath that saw cule on cule action. And not the hot kind. The Requiem for a Dream kind.

There is plenty of tactical analysis we could do. Or I could link to myself and Jonathan Wilson in the same sentence and insult the latter quite severely; including Sid Lowe talking about Puyol and Pique just lumps him in with my nattering as well. But I did it anyway because that’s how I roll. If Glenn Davis and Nate Robinson are Shrek and Donkey, I don’t know who Wayne Rooney’s Nate Robinson is, but Nani must be Puss in Boots.

Are any of us actually ready for this? I most certainly am not. Yet I know it’s coming, just around the corner, just over the hilltop. The train I’m on is going backwards and I feel like I really am backing into the end of this season. I’ve been looking back so much—you’ll see the fruits of that labor shortly—and simultaneously trying to hunker down to avoid the nuclear fallout of the last month that I feel like I’ve completely lost touch with reality. I’ve dreamed about games, I walk down the halls at work pleading with my brain to stop drawing up the same damned formation (4-3-3! Say whaaaa? No way!) time and again, and I find myself staring off into space while watching other sports just imagining what the Red Devils could possibly throw at us. I need this to stop! I wrote an email the other day to my boss and barely caught the word “Barcelona” instead of the noun I meant. I need this to stop.

Yet I’m so excited about this game. I’m looking forward to it, I know it. I’ll be at the bar when it opens on Saturday and I’ll be chanting things about campeons and [wow, quadrilingual cursing of someone’s mother, impressive. –ed]. I’ll probably make some well-informed (and loud) comments about Imogen Thomas having Schwarzenegger’s love child. I might just have a lot of caffeine in the morning so that the shaking that causes will cancel out the nervous shaking. That’s how it works, right?…I’ll take your silence as a yes.

Affirmation of my immense understanding of the human body and substance abuse aside, I have this to say: Barça is hardly done. Whatever anyone may say about the end of an era, I will only believe it when I see it. It is perhaps incorrect to point at the World Cup as culpable for the team’s fatigue, but if Guardiola is going to reinforce the squad in the coming summer, there’s no reason to think that we won’t be as good next year. Perhaps our competition will also improve, but that’s okay, I’m happy to have that. I’m happy not knowing the outcome before the game begins…

Predicted Lineup: Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Abidal, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, Messi, Pedro.

I’m going with a lineup that I’d like to see, even though it is probable Puyol starts on the left and Mascherano gets the call in the middle. I have supreme faith in Roi Eric and I believe his combination of speed and positional sense will shut down whoever is put on that wing. Nani may beat him for trickery, but Abidal will growl and he’ll fall, earning himself a yellow for diving. It’s like a projected death rattle and only the receiver can hear it. If it’s Valencia, well, Abidal will have his hands full because of the speed and incisiveness, but with Puyol covering, I’m not particularly worried. If it’s Chicharito, fine, his speed is good, but his positioning on the wing is not particularly great, so yeah, let them put him there.

Official Prediction: Though you know this already…2-0, Barça. The game itself should be fun. The questions leading up to it are all about United’s formation and Barça’s back line health, but when kickoff happens, we should see some serious fun and some seriously talented players having that fun. Goals by Eto’o, err I mean Pedro and Messi. Valdes saves well from Park early on, but then Anderson in the middle screws up and Iniesta torches him and provides the assist. From there, it’s all over except the trophy ceremony and the lauding from the journos. Greatest club team in history? Can they repeat in Germany next year? Which Icelandic volcano will keep them from doing it?”

But I don’t say it best:

Here’s the thing: it’s not really about Manchester United. Oh no. It’s never about that. Not when Payaso and Payaso Junior are all up in some Arsenal training facilities:

It is clear to me, as it should be to you, unless your head is stuck somewhere in the sand, that the only reason Barça bothered to get to the Final, bothered to travel to London, worked all these years to be in this position, is to tap up Cesc.

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.


  1. Classless! I bet you’ve never even been to the Camp Nou! /screeches.

    I’m going for a 4-1 myself. Total domination, Messi hat-trick.

  2. This is it. I have faith in our boys. They will do the job and finish the season in a big way.

    And that video of Mr. T is terrific! 😀

  3. Barça is hardly done. Whatever anyone may say about the end of an era, I will only believe it when I see it.

    This, about a million times over! 😀

    I’m not making any prediction because I don’t want to jinx anything, but I will say one thing: I want an Iniestazo tomorrow. More than anything in the world.

  4. I think we’ll win this. Don’t know if it’ll be close or high-scoring or what, but I think we’ll win. And I want Messi to be absolutely brilliant, Villa to put his post/offside demons to rest, and Abidal to score one because he has been extraordinary this season and his recovery is more important than any club success winning trophies.

    I’m curious how everyone’s going to be watching the match? I’m going to a local British-style pub that attracts a lot of football fans, it’s a great place but I’m worried about there being many more loud obnoxious Man Utd supporters than cules. : )

    1. I considered finding a pub or sports bar here that will be showing it, I’m sure there are some. But…I would be watching alone and in a noisy environment. The nice thing about streaming video is that you can have more than open at a time. So I hope to have both a Spanish and English feed and maybe a neutral one too if I can find one. I’ll download a nice HD version afterwards to rewatch.

      There is going to be a LoveBlob, right? Tell me now if there isn’t!

      (continuing my quest for Total Thread Domination) 😛

  5. ‘ManU’ is a derogatory term about the club, referring to the Munich air Disaster. Please change it to Man Utd.

    1. Here:

      Rubbish. It’s a perfectly legitimate abbreviation that has been in use long before Munich.

      I copied this comment from a Manchester United forum, if this helps:

      I signed up here specifically because I wanted to bump this particular thread because (as far as I can see) this is one of the main places this ridiculous myth has gained web wide notoriety. it’s nonsense…Not the chanting, but the fact that the term was made (or indeed specifically used) as an insult to Munich. The term was created entirely by news networks in the 40s and 50s as a means of accomodating the word in print, and was not only used by some fans during the times and can be heard on old Pathe news reports, but was also used by the club on merchandise and has been used over the years by players and managers …This photo of a United pin depicting Geoff Bent being a prime example of the club using it from the Millman collection. This bizarre rant which may or may not originate here, but is one of the clearest and most obvious stages for it’s propaganda, is not only wildly exaggerated, but seemingly the only piece of evidence on the matter. The Poster of the year over at Redcafe made a very good thread on it, with the assistance of legendary red Tom Clare (who grew up with the babes and has written books on his years supporting the club) about how it’s a complete myth that’s never had any real credence – it’s in the newbie section of that site so I can’t give a link you’d be able to see. The notion that it’s older supporters who feel this and the young need to be informed of our “history” is the oddest one, since the older supporters (like Mr Clare) not only grew up with the term used innocuously, but also don’t care, and it’s the younger supporters, fuelled by some sort of mad “I’m gonna be a better supporter than you” quest for spurious knowledge that spread it around like a vicious badge of honor. The internet has made this myth, it’s simply that. It’s a crass and pretty rubbish term that isn’t used in Manchester simply because “United” is all that is needed to identify the club, but it is one that has been used, and one which has no relation to Munich what so ever. Anyone claiming they don’t use it because they know about our history is a hypocrite who doesn’t actually know anything about our history, or indeed the history of football, but has merely picked up some nonsense off the internet based on hear say and drunk pub speculation. Stop this nonsense. Thankyou and goodnight..

      Mods, please delete the other post. Thx.

    2. Confirmed. Rubbish indeed. Add to that a dressing down from a lifelong ManU fan. Now I really wanna win!

  6. OK, so I’m at the mall today buying cheap red and blue earrings for tomorrow and the store’s sound system starts playing Waka Waka. That has to be a good omen.

    I don’t care what the score is tomorrow as long as we win. But I want a clinic. I want the EPL fans to be saying, “Oh, that’s why there’s all that hype.” I want Messi to put on one of those there’s- no-doubt-in-the-world-about-who’s-best type of performances.And I don’t want dives. I want composure like the November clasico. Am I asking for too much? From this team, I don’t think so! If we lose (gasp!) then on to next year and thanks to the team for the great season.

    Strangely, I’m feeling good about this. If we play like we can, we’ve got this.

    1. Oooooh, Imma find those Christmas lights and blaugranafy the basement (Man Utd. fan son will be overjoyed 😈 )

    1. It looks like it is, but people still say it’s slow and it doesn’t suit our game.

    1. Nah, the squad list has to be smaller, it consists of 19 players. That means 4(?) players who made the trip to London won’t be allowed to feature.

  7. Surprise, surprise. Sid Lowe writes a complementary post about Busi on The Guardian. 🙄

    Ramzi and @barcastuff totally have this guy’s number.

    1. Yeah, I said in the other thread I think maybe the article is his way of sucking up after he misquoted Pep the other day. Dunno. It actually was a good article, though.

    2. Oh yes, it was very nice (and people should check it out), but my cynicism towards all things Sid makes me enjoy less. 🙁

    3. Oooh, I just saw on the Sports Illustrated site that Sid is predicting a 1-0 win for ManU. 👿

      Dead to me.

    4. What, again?! I’ve always found it funny that when Sid predicts we’re going to lose, the opposite happens, but it’s getting more than a little fishy that he predicts we’re going to lose all the time. Every major game we take part in (e.g. every clasico, the 2009 final, this final), no matter what form we come in, he always predicts that either the other team will nick it, or conversely that we haven’t recovered enough of our form to win.

      But whatever. I’ll just take it as a good sign and we’ll win.

    1. Why let it bother you? Too many journalists are fundamentally lazy, so it’s easy to watch a few matches and make judgments about the actions of a club. Further, it’s a lazy editor that allows it.

      Anyone who would draw ANY inference from the series of 4 Clasics, none of which were about anything approximating football, is, simply put, a fool. Let them be.

      The other complexity is that people are catching up, and hopping on the bandwagon, whether that means paying attention to our club after lo, these many years (we’re popular a bit, don’cha know?), or acting as though they have.

      I’m fine with people being stupid. If we didn’t have stupid people, however would we identify intelligent ones?

    2. Nah. It’s not getting to me — I’m not full of righteous rage or anything. I’ve come to expect this sort of thing, especially from the BritPress. The only revealing thing from the Clasicos was Sid’s role in it and other neutral bloggers reactions to it (cough DT cough).

      It’s just that I have this guilty habit of reading things that purposely make me angry/laugh so I can properly get into the mood of the final. Right now, I have nothing against Man Utd. I actually quite like them. And everything, even what the BritPress are writing, is making me laugh. It could be because I’m spent bile-wise due to a certain EE, but if we lose the final I’ll only be crushed that we lost, not that we lost to Man Utd. That just feels weird.

      If we didn’t have stupid people, however would we identify intelligent ones?

      Too true. It’s getting harder and harder to identify the intelligent ones in all the crap though. Ah well.

      And actually your entire comment is like summary of a post (idea) that was sitting in my brain. Get out of my head, Kxevin! 😀

    3. But again, it’s his shtick. He has many pieces saying almost exactly the same thing. And he’s probably made a name for himself as THAT guy. If that’s how he wants to rock it, that’s fine. To each their own. I’m just so above it all, probably because I know how journalists work.

      “Who would read me if I said, like most other folks, that this is a brilliant team that is a joy to watch?”

    4. But if everyone was so above it and didn’t comment/call out the bullsh*t, people might start to believe it’s true. I’m not saying that I’ll be the internet warrior who will take it upon herself to right the online world, but silence isn’t always golden, not when people are itching to take everything the wrong way… Those people don’t matter, but the neutral people who don’t know better need that voice that says “those people are talking outta their arses, here’s why, so ignore them”.

      Ronay has always irritated me, but Barca hating is his thing, so I’ve learned to ignore all the crap he spews (thank God he isn’t on the FW podcast). And yeah, it’s hating, not even contrarian. Pure and undiluted hate, just looking. and probably getting, clicks.

    5. I had no idea what he was talking about for the first three paragraphs. Which should tell you something about the quality of the article.

      His basic “beef” with Barca (if you will excuse the pun) is the same thing I have been saying for ages: he resents the “ball deprivation” they inflict on other teams. They play keepaway and it’s not faaaiiirrr!!!.

  8. Reading an essay about the religious sectarianism behind the Glasgow Protestant Rangers/Catholic Celtic divide, and wondering where my Glaswegian Jewish Socialist Rangers-supporting father fits into that mix.

    Perhaps I shall ask him.


    Everyone ’s too happy right now. Everyone ’s too confident. People are actually looking forwards to this match instead of being a quivering mass of nerves and pessimism.
    It is unbecoming of Barça fans, who have been known for ages to be the most negative, pessimistic lot amongst the bunch of negative, pessimistic football fans.

    Have some Pepssimism as snacks! 😀

  10. Wonderful article as always Isaiah. I love Cesc, and the photo of Puyol and Pique asking him to come back to Barca. Does not matter how much he costs.

    At this point of time I just want to see a good match. I was ready to puke after the 4th classico. Disgusting stuff from EE. I hope ManU play with positive tactics in mind and not like EE. I dont care if we win or loose, I mean I do care that we win, but hopefully it is a game in which both the sides tried play, and to score goals.

    And lastly, hopefully, this is a high scoring match.

    Regarding your Eto’o, I mean Pedro, comment, I love Eto’o and would love to see him back in Blaugrana.

  11. Man I don’t think I can watch this final live, my heart can’t handle anything other than a win considering the opponents.
    I suffered a lot in the 09 final.

    Back line is something that’s troubling me, I want Mascherano and Abi in it but that will mean no Puyi.

    I think Pep will play:
    Alves Pique Masch Puyi

    1. Abidal starts for me.

      With park rumoured to play against alves, Man Utd’s main threat out wide – right is def valencia and that guy is all about driving to the by-line at pace.

      Id even take a much quicker adriano – however positionally suspect he may be.

      Besides lets not push our luck with regards to Smach playing CB.

      Those were last resort measures.

  12. Good read here—

    “This is the one big differentiation between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, the two greatest players in the world. Messi makes everyone around him better by making the right decisions and putting people in the right positions. He sacrifices his need to demonstrate his superiority on the field and gives others the spotlight when it will benefit the team. It is something that most other great players in sports, including Ronaldo, have failed to master. This is what makes Messi the best.”

  13. So, I was wearing my Barça T shirt outside a club yesterday and this group of people came up to me and started singing the Himno..suffice to say I joined in pretty well and soon enough it turned into a vocal, if there’s a youtube vid about some brown guy singing the Cant, its probably me 😀

    btw we also did an awesome chant rendition of Olele Olala ser del Barça est, a millor que hi ha 😀

    1. No, Puyol will tuck valencia in his back pocket and release him only after the match, but i also dont want Puyi at LB, because there is no need for that, he will play CB, and king ABI will be the LB.

    2. Sure he may tuck hin away majority of the match but why are we asking for unnecessary trouble.
      Valencia is bound to beat him once or twice and with little details deciding this game, i just want our backline to be as normal ar possible.

  14. 11 hours and 45 minutes..I’m freaking out here!

    Does everybody think we’ll have the usual pre-injury line-up?
    or does anyone think there is even a small possibility that Pep will switch things up just a bit? Like for example moving Messi to the left, letting Villa into his natural position, and moving Pedro to the right? Could that work? Is it possible? Would Villa still hit the post?

    I apologize for the many questions..I’m a nervous wreck between the CL and studying for finals. As long as we win, I’m a happy camper! 🙂

  15. This
    “Barça is hardly done. Whatever anyone may say about the end of an era, I will only believe it when I see it.”
    And this
    “Greatest club team in history? Can they repeat in Germany next year? Which Icelandic volcano will keep them from doing it?”





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