We can all agree that Barcelona plays the most attractive, destructive football on the planet. Their use of the ball, their constant movement and tiki-taka passing make them the ideal team in terms of how the beautiful game should be played—beautifully.
But one question still lingers, are they the most entertaining team to watch?
Sure they will play lovely, possession football and rarely lose, but the fact remains that whenever you watch them play, you almost know what is coming. You know that Xavi and Iniesta will run the game from midfield, that Messi and Villa will convert any sniff of a chance that comes their way up top and that Puyol and Pique are impregnable in the back.
You rarely watch a Barcelona game and think "they might be vulnerable here" or that they will face any form of challenge from the opposition. Even the second best team in La Liga, the mighty Real Madrid, were swatted aside like a fly on a hot day in the Catalan city.
Is this entertaining? Or is it boring?
I suggest a mixture of both but if you want real entertainment, I suggest Manchester United.
This season Manchester United are undefeated in the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup, but it feels like they should have a couple of marks in the losses column. They have not been as dominant as Barcelona in surging five points clear at the top of their league, but that is what separates the two in the entertainment stakes.
The fact that when Manchester United plays, you do not quite know what is going to happen. Are they going to win again, draw again or lose, finally?
One thing that is certain, is that no matter if you do not support them or even know much about football, you will be entertained as they take their manager and fans through the full spectrum of human emotion, from anger to amazement, from despair to elation.
Below are a few examples to back up my theory.
Fulham (A) 22/08/10: Manchester United are 1-2 up at Craven Cottage when in the 87th minute, they are awarded a penalty. Up steps Nani with the chance to make it 1-3 and put the game to bed. He misses. Two minutes later, in the final minute of normal time, Fulham get a corner. The ball is delivered into the box and Brede Hangeland, whose own goal put United 1-2 up, crashes in a powerful header to make it 2-2. Final score: 2-2
Everton (A) 11/09/10: Manchester United, coming back from a goal down, take a 1-3 lead into added time. When Tim Cahill pops up to score in the 91st minute, it appears no more than a consolation. Then a minute later from their next attack, Mikel Arteta steers in the equaliser. Delirium for the Everton players, management and supporters, dispair for their counterparts from Old Trafford. Final score: 3-3
Liverpool (H) 19/09/10: Dimitar Berbatov's sublime brace put Manchester United firmly in control at 2-0 before a six minute Steven Gerrard dead ball brace (PK and a FK) seem to earn Liverpool a point they barely deserved. As the game enters the 84th minute and the prospect of United throwing away two points at home to their greatest rivals begins to loom large. Up pops Berbatov to plant a header into the corner of Reina's net and settle the clash of English footballs titans. Final score: 3-2
Scunthorpe (A) 22/09/10: Looking to become the first team to win the League Cup three years in a row, Manchester United took on Scunthorpe in the fourth round. They proceed to go down 0-1 and we have possibly one of the greatest cup shocks of all time on our hands. Eventually the gap in quality tells and Manchester United run out 5-2 winners. But only after Scunthorpe took a deserved lead. Final score: 5-2
Bolton (A) 26/09/10: Manchester United came back from first being down 0-1, and then after Nani had leveled for United, down 1-2 after Martin Petrov put Bolton back in the lead. Michael Owen (remember him) comes of the bench to head United level in the 76th minute. Final score: 2-2
West Bromwich Albion (H) 16/10/10: Manchester United emerged from halt time leading newly promoted West Brom 2-0 and cruising. But two goals in five second half minutes, draws the game level ten minutes after halftime. Wave after wave of United attacks come to nothing as West Brom held out for the most unlikely of points. Final score 2-2
Stoke (A) 24/10/10: Manchester United led Stoke 1-0 until Tuncay belts a wonder strike into the top corner of Van Der Sar's net and suddenly it's all level. With Stoke looking more likely to score, United steals a win courtesy of Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez in the 86th minute. Final score: 2-1
Wolves (H) 26/10/10: Still chasing a hat trick of League Cup wins and into the second half, Manchester United took the lead at home to Wolves after a drab first half ends goal less, only for the Wolves to equalize, not once, but twice. With the game heading for the dreaded extra time, up pops Hernandez in the 90th minute to decided the tie and send it down as classic cup tie. Final score: 3-2
Wolves (H) 6/11/10: Same opposition, same ground, different competition, same entertaining game, same result. Manchester United, or rather Park Ji Sung, scored twice, at the end of each half to break Wolves' hearts for the second time this season. His second comes after former Manchester United reserve striker, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, had equalized midway through the second half, and deep into stoppage time. The 93rd minute of four additional minutes. Final score: 2-1
Aston Villa (A) 13/11/10: Trailing 0-2 after an Ashley Young penalty and a Marc Albrighton goal.With 15 minutes remaining, Manchester United suddenly sprung into life after a dire display in which they were outplayed, out fought and out thought. Federico Macheda cut the deficit with nine minutes left to set up a grand stand finish. Then, five minutes later, Vidic scored with a diving header to keep United's incredible undefeated streak alive. Final score: 2-2
Birmingham (A) 28/12/10: Leading 1-0 after Berbatov's strike, Birmingham managed to score a last minute equalizer. Bowyer, who appeared offside, controlled the ball with his arm and shot past the helpless Van Der Sar. Cue scenes of delirium from the home supporters and mass outrage from Sir Alex Ferguson. Final score 1-1
West Bromwich Albion (A) 1/1/11: With the game tied at 1-1, West Brom was awarded a penalty kick for a foul on Jerome Thomas by Rio Ferdinand. Up stepped Peter Odemwingie and he put the kick three yards wide of the post. Reprieved, Manchester United woke up and Hernandez again popped up to score the winning goal, sending the traveling fans back to Manchester toasting the New Year in the best possible way. With three priceless points in the bag. Finals score 2-1
Blackpool (A) 25/1/11: Newly promoted Blackpool prove they care not for reputations as they take a 2-0 lead into halftime. Then, Rafael appeared to bring down Luke Varney in the box. Every pair of eyes on the ground look to the referee. Some in hope, some in expectation, but the referee waved the play on. Then the inevitable happened. Berbatov made it 2-1 in the 72nd minute. Fast forward two minutes and Hernandez made it 2-2. The story can write itself from here. With two minutes left of the 90, Berbatov is played through, skins the defender before lashing a left-footed strike into the back of the net. Although there was 10 minutes of stoppage time, Blackpool were done, mentally and physically. Blackpool, it appears, should have cared for the reputation of the team they were playing. Final score: 3-2
Southampton (A) 29/1/11: Looking to win a record 12th FA Cup, the Red Devils took on the Saints. On the stroke of halftime, Southampton scored. The game dragged on with United still down 1-0 until that man Michael Owen nodded in after good work by Obertan. Then, with the game opening up, a mistake, a pass, a goal. It's that simple. Giggs intercepted a pass 10 yards from the edge of the Saints' box and the oldest of all the Red Devils finds the newest of the Red Devils. Hernandez steered Manchester United into the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Now, is there a team out there that has had a more entertaining season relative to where they are in the league and where they should be?
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