This was quite simple the best. This was better than beating Sampdoria 1-0 at Wembley in 1992. This was better than beating Arsenal three years ago in Paris. This was beating the current champions, the team have won the English Premier League for the last three seasons. This was beating the great Manchester United, not with a late winner like against Sampdoria and Arsenal, but by two clear goals, a fantastic display that left the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo so frustrated that he had to content himself with fouling Carles Puyol. This was Leo Messi showing the world who is the better player, though Andres Iniesta has to be considered for the throne too. This was Pep Guardiola, in his first season as coach, outwitting Sir Alex Ferguson who has won more trophies than any other manager in the game. This was the treble. This was history.
Barça started nervously and from the kick off sent the ball back to valdés who kicked the ball straight into touch. It was not the start we wanted and for the first nine minutes there was only one team in it. In the second minute Ronaldo tried a free kick from 30 yards out and Valdés failed to hold the ball and Piqué had to be quick to get in front of Park who was storming in for the rebound. United were playing football with passes to feet, Ronaldo had two more attempts on goal that both went wide while Barça were failing to get any hold on the game.
Then on nine minutes Iniesta had his first chance to make a vertical run towards the United area, as the defence came to meet him Iniesta played the ball to Samuel Eto'o on the right of the area, Eto'o cut inside Vidic before toe-poking a shot that Van Der Sar touched but couldn't stop at his near post. Eto'o has been dreadful with his finishing in recent games but tonight, when it mattered, he took his first chance decisively.
United were shaken by the set-back, but continued to try to play football. However, Barça with confidence restored also began to knock the ball around in typical fashion. The danger from United continued to be from Ronaldo and in the 16th minute Piqué was booked for obstructing the Portuguese but Giggs hit the free kick over the bar from 25 yards. Three minutes later Eto'o who continued to play on the right played the ball inside to Messi who had his first shot on goal but the ball flew over Van Der Sar's crossbar. Ronaldo had another shot wide and then a header over from Gigg's corner, but Barça were beginning to take control of the game.
United's attempt to push up on our defence meant that Xavi and Iniesta were finding room to dictate things in midfield, with Messi combining well with the pair in the same central role he had played at the Bernabeu. Iniesta won a foul on the left and Xavi hit the free kick just wide. Messi was also only stopped by a foul after a good run. Ferguson switched Giggs to the left with Rooney coming more central but now it was United who could not find a way through. On the stroke of half time Messi made another good run down the left and Van Der Sar fumbled the cross but was rescued by his defence. Then there was still time for Iniesta to chip in a cross which was just too high for Henry.
At half time Ferguson brought on Tevez for Anderson as United switched to 4-4-2 but the result was to make things easier for our midfield. In the 48th minute Iniesta passed to Xavi who played the ball onto Henry on the left, he skipped outside Ferdinand but his shot was saved by Van Der Sar. Sylvinho who had an excellent game at left back in what could be his last game for Barça, sent in a dangerous cross but Van Der Sar got there first in front of Eto'o, but before United could get out of their half Eto'o robbed the ball who crossed towards Messi who near the penalty spot, could not quite reach the ball. It was all Barça now, in the 51st minute Iniesta made a great run to the edge of the area and was only stopped by a foul inside the dee of the penalty area. From the free kick Xavi curled one and was unlucky to see the ball bounce out off the bottom of Van Der Sar's left hand post.
United had their first chance of the second half in the 56th minute when Rooney crossed from the right, Toure missed the clearance and we were fortunate to see the ball bounce over Park's head at the far post. United had a few minutes pinning us back but our defence were splendid, proving once and for all that this is not a weakness. Piqué especially against his ex-team mates was superb. Ferguson brought on Berbatov for Park, and Ronaldo switched to the left side where he remained in Carles Puyol's pocket until the end of the game.
Then on 70 minutes Puyol anticipated a clearance from Van Der Sar and charged forward, the attack broke down but the ball came to Xavi who looked up and spotting Messi unmarked, sent in a beautiful cross which the little Argentinian met with a great jump and a looping header over Van Der Sar into the net. Guardiola brought on Keita for Henry who had done all he could but did not look 100% after his injury. Then United almost hit us straight back in our only moment of losing concentration at the back, Berbatov crossed from the right, the ball arrived to Ronaldo at the far post but Valdés did brilliantly to close the angle and make his only important save of the match.
From then on Barça did what we do best, frustrating United with our possession football. Ronaldo showed his frustration with a couple of fouls on Puyol, and Scholes was lucky to stay on the pitch after a horrendous foul on Busquets. Puyol had a great chance to make it three in the 84th minute, storming in, Alves style, but his attempted clip over Van Der Sar hit the United keeper. Berbatov had a header over from a corner as United desperately tried to get forward but until the end of the game they hardly had the ball again as Barça demonstrated the difference in class.
It was particularly satisfying to see how well our defence played tonight, and United may wonder how they let us have Piqué back so cheaply. The whole team played well but if I have to pick a man of the match it would be Iniesta who gave yet another masterclass of keeping possessionI started this blog two years ago and had to write about the disappointments at the end of the 2006/7 season and last season. It is so nice to at last get the chance to write about our victories. What a season! And what a last four weeks we have experienced. First the 2-6 win at the Bernabeu, then the amazing last gasp winner from Iniesta at Chelsea, then we won the Copa del Rey followed by La Liga and now this. Absolutely unbelievable!
Congratulations people, Copa, Liga and Champions! Keep this memory with you forever. This evening we have just witnessed the culmination of the greatest season ever. Muchas gracias Pep, muchas gracias Barça!
Barça: Valdés 7.5; Puyol 8.5, Toure 7.5, Piqué 9, Sylvinho 8.5; Xavi 8.5, Busquets 8, Iniesta 9.5 (Pedro m92); Messi 9, Eto'o 8.5, Henry 7.5 (Keita m71, 7.5).
Man United: Van Der Sar; O'Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Anderson, Carrick, Giggs; Park, Ronaldo, Rooney.
Goals: m10 Eto'o 1-0, m70 Messi 2-0
Yellow cards: m16 Piqué,m78 Ronaldo, m80 Scholes, m93 Vidic.