Posted: 5/28/2011


       By the 54th minute at Wembley it was all over. The fat lady hadn't sung, but the fat cats were marooned in Zurich preparing their defence.

       For the second time in three years Barca had defeated Manchester United in The Champions League Final, this time outside London instead of Rome, and we had over half an hour to admire the Catalonian machine and the inevitable conclusion.

      I started looking at the two extra Hungarian officials prancing, skipping and sidestepping to the side of each goal, to assist fellow Magyar referee Viktor Kassai in his quest for perfection and no mistakes. The young referee has a pretty lenient reputation and to his credit he kept the play flowing as well as he could. Both teams tried to play the beautiful game, though one was much more beautiful than the other. The two extra assistants, business class flights, 5 star hotel, liberal UEFA allowances were really extra baggage.

      Some say that this was the best team ever, but at my age I have seen some very good teams such as Real Madrid in the 50's and 60's, then Ajax, AC Milan, Liverpool and of course Hungary, Brazil, Spain, Argentina and other national teams. It's a matter of opinion and age, since some younger Mancunians even voted Cantona as their best player ever, having been too young to see Best, Law and Charlton grace The Theatre of Dreams in their heyday.

     Fifty-three goals in fifty-five matches this season, 12 goals in The Champions League, despite NONE in five matches at FIFA World Cup 2010 for Argentina, Lionel Messi was the star but he had an All-Star cast to back him up.  'MES QUE UN CLUB'.(More than a Club), is the motto of his club, the pride of Catalan culture.

      United were overwhelmed in midfield, and whoever they had put on the pitch it wouldn't have mattered. After Wayne Rooney equalised from a pass from Ryan Giggs in the 34th minute, Barca just continued to play their own mesmerising game. Lionel Messi after 54 minutes and David Villa 15 minutes later took the game beyond the Premier League champions and the gigantic trophy, 'Old Big Ears' was destined to return to their magnificent Camp Nou trophy room. Only Madrilenos were silent in their applause.

     The Frenchman, UEFA President Michel Platini, a former winner himself, has apologized, too late, for the price of admission, even to the cheap seats at Wembley. Next years final will be at The Allianz Arena in Munich. Who would bet against Lionel Messi and his Barca teammates won't be defending the trophy, which has never happened before?