In the end, only one team turned up to try to win the game. I thought that the Mancs seemed to have a sense of entitlement, as if it was theirs for the taking: ‘Barcelona were a bit lucky to be there’, said Cristiano Ronaldo afterwards, whereas I would have said that, after the yawnfest of last year’s final (John Terry’s slip being one of the few stand out moments for the ‘neutral’ who was hoping both sides could somehow contrive to lose) it was us who were lucky to have the Catalans there.
They were a joy to watch. Messi had been given top billing before the game, but it was Iniesta who, to my mind, shone brighter than his team mate. Alongside Xavi he bossed the midfield, keeping possession in the acres of space allowed to him by the United players. Given their history it was difficult to write them off even at two goals down, so when Ronaldo had a cast iron chance all I could think was ‘here they go, back in it, the undeserving bastards’ but no, he fluffed his shot and the good guys came through to lift the trophy.
And make no mistake, although football tries very hard to be unloveable these days, Barca are the good guys. From turning down untold millions offered by potential shirt sponsors in order to give away the space to Unicef, to acting as a rallying point for Catalonia during the darkest days of the region’s history, when attempts were made to supress the language and culture, to refusing to compromise on the silkiness of their pass and move game in favour of something more direct, Barcelona is definitely ‘more than a club’.
Truly, today, football was beautiful.