A little bit of revenge for Manchester United tonight but I don’t think Pep Guardiola will be losing too much sleep. United deserved their win as they were far more decisive going forward, but I would put the difference between the sides down to the fact that United have been in the States for around three weeks and I believe this was their fifth game there. Barça have only just arrived and we have had less time to get in shape. Even though it was a good contest and United had to work hard to earn the victory. Iniesta and Thiago again looked our best players but the connections weren’t being made with Pedro or Villa. In fact our most dangerous forward Ibi Afellay who put in one very dangerous low cross that found nobody but then just before half time he had to come off with what looked like a hamstring injury. However, the outstanding player of the first half was unquestionably United’s Nani. I can’t help smiling and thinking of Wembley when I think of Nani (that fantastic substitution just before Villa’s goal) but today he gave us a lot of problems and he was rewarded with the opening goal when he just beat the offside to go through alone and beat Valdés between his legs.
With the goal advantage United were quite happy to see us have long periods of possession but they succeeded in cutting off the routes into the danger area. However, Pedro had a decent effort after 50 minutes forcing David De Gea into a good save. De Gea then denied Thiago a chance after a superb scooped pass over the top from Iniesta. Then in the 70th minute, when it seemed we wouldn’t find a way past the young keeper, Carmona on the left played a pass inside to Thiago who received the ball about 30 yards out, knocked it forward a couple of strides before whacking a belter that swerved away from De Gea and just inside the post.
The fact that United went on to win didn’t really matter that much, it was a great moment. Two minutes later Abidal and Fontás both came off, and it was no coincidence that a couple of minutes after that we were caught out with a hole in our defence that Michael Owen ran into before skillfully beating Valdés in the one-on-one.
Oh well, you can’t win them all, but I thought there were plenty of positives again tonight. The fact that it is now after half past three in the morning means I’m not going into them now. If anybody out there is still awake and you watched the game, send us a comment.
Tonight’s team: Valdés; Dos Santos, Busquets, Fontas (Armando (m72), Abidal (Balliu m72); Thiago, Keita, Iniesta (Riverola m77); Pedro (Javi Espinosa m86), Villa (Carmona m62), Afellay (Cuenca m42).
Goals: Nani m22 1-0, m70 Thiago 1-1, m76 Owen 2-1.
Update: here’s Thiago’s goal –