In the dying moments of Barcelona’s Champions League triumph in May, coach Pep Guardiola made a substitution to run down the clock. Andreas Iniesta was the player sacrificed. The diminutive midfielder produced a stirring display on the night, along with partner in crime Xavi. Both tormented the Manchester United midfielder to such an extent, Darren Fletcher was almost missed. His replacement was yet another graduate from the Catalan’s outstanding academy, Perdito. It was a surprising choice, as the young forward only appeared in sporadically during their historic treble-winning season. However, one third of the way through the 2009/2010 campaign, he is 2nd in the Barca scoring-charts, just behind a certain Lionel Messi. This season, he has grown into Pedro.
Any time the camera focused on Alex Ferguson last Wednesday night, it showed him in an unusual pose. He was sitting down quietly. He looked lost, defeated, deflated. He realised soon after Samuel E’too’s 10th minute toe poke under Edwin van Der Saar that there was no way back. A one goal margin was all there was, but it seemed insurmountable. Ferguson’s teams have never known when they are beaten, as we have seen all too often over the last 20 years. Against Sheffield Wednesday in ’93, Bayern Munich in ’99, Tottenham ’01. Certain defeats turned into glorious triumph. But this Barcelona team was not for bullying.
Resiliance.Immense.Heroic. These were the adjectives used in the media to describe Chelsea’s parking of the bus on Tuesday night at the Nou Camp. I haven’t seen anything as overboard than that since Goldie Hawn in the film,er, Overboard
Glancing throught the papers yesterday, one would have thought that it was a team of cobblers and postmen that had battled their way to a goalless draw at the Nou Camp.