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Manchester United: Barcelona Masterclass Overcomes Weak Red Midfield

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 28:  Sir Alex Ferguson manager of Manchester United (L) and Mike Phelan assistant manager of Manchester United show their dejection after the UEFA Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC at Wembley Stadium on May 28, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Nathan LoweAnalyst IMay 28, 2011

There wasn't a team Manchester United could have fielded Saturday in the Champions League final that would have made a spit of difference against newly-crowned 2011 European Champions Barcelona.

United's midfield were far too porous in front of their defense, allowing bubbles of space for maestros Messi and Xavi to exploit whimsically en route to a 3-1 thrashing.

The Red Devils failed to register a corner kick throughout 90 minutes that saw them concede the majority of possession and rarely threaten Victor Valdes' goal, apart from Rooney's first-half equalizer.

United's midfield had no nucleus. Carrick, Park and Giggs allowed too much space in front of their defense and were punished for it by each Barcelona goal.

Patrice Evra was also wonky on two of the goal-scoring occasions, just as he was out of position for Barcelona's opener two years ago.

The Manchester club would have been better served by a healthy Darren Fletcher, he having more defensive bottle than any other midfielder currently on offer at the club.

Antonio Valencia had the worst outing of any player in red, virtually anonymous for long periods.  Giggs was ineffective, Carrick was neutral, as ever, and Ferdinand also appeared somewhat vacant.

Park, Vidic and Rooney were the only United players not completely overcome by the occasion.

Up front, Hernandez tried to trigger counter-attacks with late through runs, but was found offside the few times United could manage the ball up to him.

It was an absolutely outstanding inaugural year for the Mexican, however, who may look forward to years of improvement ahead as he matures in Manchester.

In the end, it was another cracking season for the superclub, and downright nothing to be ashamed of; Barcelona have a ridiculous surfeit of talent, and it'll take more from any club in the world to defeat them next season.

United are planning relatively expansive summer transfers, which will provide Sir Alex with the necessary ingredients to stage another proud, if not foolhardy, attack on the European champions again next season.

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