Sunday, July 31, 2011

United finally beat depleted Barca, as goal hero Owen is once again preferred to Berbatov...

Manchester United 2-1 Barcelona; Washington, 2011, Match report in brief.




Manchester United brought down the curtain on what has been another hugely successful US tour with a 2-1 win over Pep Guardiola's severely depleted Barcelona in Washington last night, in front of a record crowd of over 81,000 fans.

The result was meaningless, not only because it was a friendly, albeit, a very high-profile one at that, but mainly because Messi, Sanchez, Xavi, Dani Alves, Javier Mascherano, Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol were all missing from the Barcelona team. United were without Javier Hernandez, the Mexican will miss next weekend's Community Shield clash with Manchester City at Wembley, because he is recovering from concussion.

Wayne Rooney missed a golden opportunity to score on just 10 minutes following excellent work by United's star man on the night, Nani. The Portuguese winger was a thorn in Barca's side for most of the first-half and he opened the scoring on 22 minutes after being put through on goal by Welbeck. United broke out of defence and hit Barcelona on the break with a slick counter-attack, but when Nani collected the ball he looked suspiciously offside.

Barcelona barely tested United's new 'keeper, but as the game went on the Champions of Europe pressed and enjoyed long periods of possession and they equalised through Thiago Alcantara whose thunderbolt gave David de Gea no chance, that was on 70 minutes, but six minutes later Michael Owen secured the win with a trademark finish after good work by Tom Cleverley.

More goal scoring opportunities followed, Michael Owen should have scored late on but missed the target from just six yards out after good work by Obertan. Prior to that Thiago blazed over, but United ran out winners to the delight of their many North American fans.

After the game, Sir Alex Ferguson said that he was happy with the result, but given Barcelona had made so many changes it was difficult to gauge the importance of the result.

So what, if anything, can we learn from this win over Barcelona? For starters, Fergie was dead right about Barca's missing stars, but despite so many omissions, the manager might well be surprised to learn that according to the Washington Post, Barcelona still dominated possession, with a staggering 69%.

In the build up to this game Fergie was once again asked about United's interest in Wesley Sneijder and his was response was "we are done talking" and the manager then went on to extole the questionable virtues of Anderson, who has been the model of inconsistency ever since he arrived at the club.

If United are going to fend off the challenge of Chelsea, Manchester City and rejuvenated Liverpool on the domestic front, and have any hope of beating Barca in Europe, then Fergie must add more quality to what is a creaking engine room.

United cannot compete in the transfer market with City and Chelsea, but the money-men have to find a way of securing a player like Sneijder. Fergie claims that there are "other targets", but no doubting many United fans will be hoping one of them is not bad-boy Joey Barton, as the media reported last week.

As for other pointers, it was interesting to note that Michael Owen was again preferred to Dimitar Berbatov. Last season's top goal scorer won't have helped his cause earlier in the week, when he made it clear that he isn't going to improve his work-rate and there's no doubting his manager will have failed to have been impressed with that outburst and so it comes as no great surprise that the likes of Juventus have been linked with the Bulgarian over the weekend. Watch this space on that front...

Ferguson has gone on record stating that it is unlikely United will be loaning out any of their young players, but we can take that with a very large pinch of salt, because he said that Macheda would never be loaned out only for him to join Sampdoria in January. However, with so much speculation about the future of Berbatov the manager will likely retain the likes of Welbeck and Macheda for a while yet.

Rafael could also be a concern to the manager and his backroom team as he was replaced by Fabio after sustaining an ankle injury early in the first-half against Barca and so he will be an injury worry ahead of the annual curtain raiser with Manchester City in the capital, but United have ample cover.

United end the tour with five wins out of five, having only conceded three goals and having scored 20. North American "soccer" fans will hopefully have enjoyed United's US tour, it remains a popular destination with the players and fans alike.

Next up, it's the Community Shield at Wembley, that should be very interesting as it most certainly will not be a friendly.

5 comments:

  1. shame we didn't do it in the final but it was a good game maybe got some pride back to set us up for the city game

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  2. I agree with you Hugh. But United simply must add more quality in midfield. IF we don't, I fear that we will come up short this season.

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  3. barca were depleted but united were even more so. A midfield of cleverley and anderson bossed iniesta busquets thiago and pedro. That was a victory in itself.

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  4. Are you having a laugh ref the Barca team? And let us not forget Fergie has been telling the media that Anderson could play a big part next season... with our midfield options I can see us struggling. Personally, I'd shove the da Silva boys in there - they are better equipped than Anderson, Carrick and Fletcher. I really don't know what Fergie is playing at deploying them as defenders when both are technically superb and especially going forward as demonstrated against Arsenal at OT last season.

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  5. I keep hearing that Barca didn't have their best squad today and its bull. That seems to always be what the losers say not to mention that our squad was missin some of their best.

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