-First, before I get into today's post, make sure you check out all my Pool colleagues to see all the poll results. That's Oh You Beauty, Paisley Gates, and Liverpool Offsides. The Offside has Liverpool's player of the year today.
-I have some postseason plans that will start next week, but for now I want to use this as a Champions League Final preview and thread. The good thing with Barcelona is that it doesn't take a huge tactical breakdown to figure out what they're going to do tomorrow. You know, I know, the Mancs know. It's just a question of if you can stop it. I don't think ManUre can, but stranger things have happened. It depends if Fletcher plays. If he doesn't. I wouldn't be shocked if both Carrick and Scholes get sent off, if either play. They just don't have the awareness to quickness to deal with this.
I doubt Lord Ferg can bring himself to park the bus. I'm sure he trusts Ferdinand and Vidic to deal with the threat without being shielded. Maybe he's right, I don't know. If he did, United's lighting speed on the counter would scare me. A lot. But if they go for it and leave themselves open, and Barca will get at least two. Even Mourinho couldn't hold them out.
But what I want to watch tomorrow is one last ride with this Barcelona side. It might not ever be this good again. Xavi is getting older, Cesc won't be the replacement everyone thinks he is, all these guys have played far too much football the past few years, etc. It's kind of sad to think that if not for the complete buffoon decision to swap Samuel Eto'o for professional passenger Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Barca would probably be gunning for their third straight European Cup tomorrow. It must rankle Barca supporters.
I know some find them boring, but I don't know how that can be. The angles Xavi and Iniesta find on a consistent basis, the way Messi just ghosts past entire defenses, the way Villa can pop up from nowhere and be such a lethal finisher (though those moments are current), the thunderbolts that Dani Alves lets loose, Pedro just being in the right place at the right time, this is the best side I've ever seen in 15 years serious following the sport. I don't think it's even close. The Zidane-Figo-Ronaldo Era of Madrid would be as close as it gets, but they weren't ever this efficient or entertaining.
Barcelona for three years now have been clockwork. You could fit them into a schedule. Game starts at 2pm? You'd see a wonderful goal to make it 3-0 by 2:30 and could get on with your day. They've made this dominance exciting. And when they did struggle, they always found a way (with the help of a Scandanavian ref, which still makes me laugh because it happened to Chelsea).
So while I will be rooting against United tomorrow of course, I'm more rooting for Barca. I don't know that we'll ever see something like this for a long while, because while other teams could amass this kind of talent financially, it's unlikely anyone will do it mostly homegrown as Barca have. And because they grew up in this system, they play it so efficiently. Slapping together the world's best in Madrid or Eastlands will never produce this kind of destruction. It would take too long to be that cohesive before pieces were moved in and out again.