Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Man U's done it!

I'm delighted to see Man U crowned as European champions again, and pleased that it was such an exciting final. Man U really bossed Chelsea in the first half, after Sir Alex initially outthought Avram Grant by recognising that the flanks were key for exposing Chelsea's more narrow 4-3-3, and thus going with a traditional 4-4-2. Putting Ronaldo on the left against a makeshift fullback (Essien), and thus making sure Essien was pinned bank instead of contributing to the Chelsea attack was a great idea, especially when the alternative was going against a player he's traditionally not done well against (Cole). The first goal was indicative of that, as Scholes and Brown had a lovely interchange of passes before the inswinger for Ronaldo to head past a stranded Essien.

Still, Chelsea's reputation as a resilient side isn't unfounded, and while their equalizer had some element of fortune, you have to credit Lampard for following-up in the first place. The momentum definitely swung to Chelsea in the second half, as their midfield had the upper hand, correlating with Scholes' waning influence due to his tiring legs. Now it was Essien pinning Ronaldo back (or more accurately getting into the attack more as Ronaldo doesn't defend!). Drogba was unlucky with the curling shot that hit the woodwork, and Joe Cole had one or two legitimate complaints at decisions that went against him. Vidic and Ferdinand were immense as they have been throughout the season. Btw, both keepers should get plenty of credit for their performances - they kept their respective sides in it at crucial points. VDS is coming to the end of a great career; Cech is one of the best of the new generation.

I'm ambivalent about penalties - they don't seem fair, but a final has to be decided somehow and they provide for amazing drama. Not surprising that Ronaldo, who had a good, though not outstanding, game overall missed - you just knew he would. I feel sorry for JT, and it should not go unnoticed that Scholes immediately went to console him at the end afterwards.

But on the whole, Manchester United do deserve it - I honestly can't think of a squad outside of Barcelona, who were less that the sum of their parts this season, who have so much quality.


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