Wednesday, April 23, 2008

United: Semi-Final

The initial reactions to United's performance away to Barcelona have been resoundingly negative.

For a neutral, which I am not, it was a good result. The return leg has more promise for world-class football than any other football match throughout the whole European season.

For a United fan, which I am, it wasn't a horrible one. Considering how difficult United found the practiced concept of passing the ball with any sort of confidence, a nil-nil is fair enough.

The performance justified the result, but as usual, there were individual culprits, and they were also the usual suspects.

Carrick again displayed his uncanny ability to become invisible, almost like a super-hero, whose power is to be an anonymously mediocre footballer.

Giggs played for seven minutes, and it's a lucky thing my obsequious friend, either in search of my affections or merely in respect of my sensibility, had grown to share my despise for the player, otherwise he might have accepted my 5$ wager on Giggs not managing a single touch on the ball, which he didn't.

The man of the match was Paul Scholes. Not because I have a very unhealthy, ambiguously heterosexual love for the mild man, nor because of his usual offensive precision, but because of his defense! He was the only midfielder getting stuck in, and did very well to disrupt much of Barcelona's onslaught.

Our full-backs prevented United from being beset completely. Despite being occasionally out-classed, both Evra and Hargreaves managed to express their own quality in ably defending their respective flanks, with Evra's being the side most bombarded.

Elsewhere, Tevez was dogged, without much result. Rooney was less dogged, with less result. Wes Brown was typically nervy and slow. Van Der Sar did enough. Ronaldo again displayed his penchant for failing to play up to the competition; he is a player who, thus far in his young career, has yet to conquer the great occasion.

Ultimately.. as the dust of 98'000 settled at the Nou Camp, millions around the world, neutrals and partisans, shrugged in hindsight while casting imaginations forward to the return leg with bated anticipation. Myself, objectively, for football of legend, and subjectively, for a result of the same variety.

Go on United.

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