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Longstanding Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson may be one of the greatest of all time. However, the Scotsman got his tactics all wrong on Saturday.
Arsenal and Real Madrid are the two teams to enjoy the most success against Barcelona this season. Both managers played the Catalan giants with three in the middle, which helped stop Barca's fluid style of play.
Ferguson, however, stuck to his traditional 4-4-2. With Giggs and Carrick as the two central midfielders, they were always going to be second best to Barcelona's diamond. Guardiola uses Busquets in a holding role, Xavi and Iniesta as true central midfielders, and Messi as the central attacker. In any third of the pitch, Barcelona overmatched United's midfield duo of Carrick and Giggs.
Although Park often interchanged with the ageless Welshman, Ferguson's team kept their standard shape. While the 4-4-2 has been successful in England's top flight this season, it is not the system to beat Barcelona.
The Gunners and Madrid have shown that the keys to beating Barcelona are staying tight to the three maestros and attacking quickly on the counter.
In addition to Ferguson's poor tactics, United gave a terrible defensive performance in the Final.
Pedro's first goal was a direct result of Xavi getting in behind Carrick and United not closing down the stand-in captain. The Spaniard was given too much space and played Pedro through on goal.
Vidic was also at fault for the goal as he failed to track Pedro when the winger pulled out wide. The United captain got sucked into the middle and, with Evra tracking Messi, Xavi played an simple pass to Pedro that led to the opening goal.
United's poor defending was at fault for Barcelona's second goal as well. Iniesta played a square pass to Messi who had acres of space. The Red Devils failed to close down the little magician, seemingly inviting the Ballon d'Or winner to shoot on goal.
United failed to make things difficult for Messi and the backline were unable to get a block as the Argentine scored the winning goal. Van der Sar also bears some of the blame for being caught wrong-footed, however the Barcelona No. 10 should never have been given that much space and time at the edge of the box.
While Villa killed off United with a spectacular curling effort from range, Ferguson's men were responsible for the third and final goal. Nani had just been introduced into the game and a miscommunication at the back resulted in Villa's wonder-goal. Carrick attempted to pass the ball to Evra, however, Nani thought he was the intended target. The Portuguese winger stuck out his boot to control the ball, but it ended up deflecting to Busquets. The holding midfielder then passed to Villa, who delivered the killer blow.
Although Barcelona were deserved winners on Saturday, United will feel that poor tactics and defending made it too easy for the Spanish giants.