Today was a special day for FC Barcelona, my favorite football club in the Spanish La Liga, as we beat the defending UEFA Champions League champs, Manchester United. While United controlled the first ten minutes early on, Samuel Eto’o made a beautiful move on the right edge of the box and put one past Edwin Van der Sar, completely changing the tide of momentum to Barca’s favor. There would be no recovery for ManU, who looked downtrodden and out even by the end of the first half. Too often United’s long ball missed its mark, while Barca controlled the midfield. ManU turned the ball over often in its own half and looked disorganized throughout. The second goal in the 70th minute told the story of a dejected United, as the ball somehow found Leo Messi’s head and then looped over van der Sar. I don’t remember ever seeing Messi score off of a header, and it wasn’t pretty this time. But a goal is a goal, and it would end there, at 2-0. My player of the game was undoubtedly Barca captain Carlos Puyol, who played a drifting, almost midfield role that was enabled by the lack of offense from ManU. He was perfect all night, making plays and passes exactly where they were needed. While Iniesta had his flashes of brilliance as usual, it was certainly Puyol’s leadership that created so much space and shut down Manchester United so effectively this evening.
While it wasn’t the prettiest final in history, it completed a storybook season for Pep Guardiola’s FC Barcelona, as they found themselves at the top of the table in La Liga, winning the Copa del Rey, and finally winning the UEFA Champion’s League today. It’s the first time in history that a Spanish team has won the fabled treble, and what a phenomenal season it’s been.