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Page last updated at 22:13 GMT, Saturday, 28 May 2011 23:13 UK

BBC pundits on Barcelona-Man Utd Champions League final

Barcelona
Barcelona triumphed for the second time in three years under Guardiola

Steve McClaren
Steve McClaren
Former England manager on BBC Radio 5 live

Barcelona's performance was an education for any footballer or coach watching. That was how to play football.

Not just in possession, not just with the ball, not just in their movement - and they always seemed to have an extra man in all areas - but in the way that they closed down, pressed and hunted the ball.

Barcelona didn't allow Manchester United to play any kind of football. That was probably the most disappointing thing about the night - in the end, Pep Guardiola's side ran out very easy winners.

We thought things would change in the second half but they didn't. It looked reminiscent of a basketball game, where everybody defends around the edge of the box.

Barcelona were just keeping the ball, waiting for the opportunity, being patient, and then delivering.

Lionel Messi, in particular, was sublime. He gave an unbelievable performance; we talk about big players performing on the big stage, and he has done it every time.

You can talk about tactical things like man-marking but Barcelona have so many players who are comfortable on the ball - [Andres] Iniesta, Xavi, [David] Villa, the list goes on.

In Europe you have to win that midfield battle, you can't get outnumbered in that department.

Manchester United will carry on and learn; they got close but they were beaten by an intelligent side and they should learn from this game.

It's an underestimated skill, is intelligence. Manchester United started well and posed Barcelona a question but the Spanish side solved it.

Messi, especially, solved it - he became the extra man in midfield. But they did it themselves, no-one was shouting from the sides.

Our coaches should look at that game and realise that it represents the future of football. Barcelona play total football, that's their philosophy - not just in terms of what they do on the ball but also what they do off it.

Sir Alex [Ferguson] will be so disappointed. As a manager, these things live with you. The 2009 final in Rome would have lived with him and this was a great opportunity to extinguish those demons.

But now they've more or less doubled, so it was a bad night for him.

Mark Lawrenson
Mark Lawrenson
Former Liverpool defender on BBC Radio 5 live

Lionel Messi is a footballing genius. We can talk long and hard about getting close to him, but it's very difficult to do.

The ball is always at his feet, he's always got options. He can have the ball under and sort of pressure.

I think when you look at this in years to come, you'll think how good Barcelona were - they were special, and it was a privilege and a pleasure to watch them play like that.

Glenn Hoddle
Glenn Hoddle
Former England manager on BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek

Barcelona are a class above anything in club football and maybe world football too; I can't see an international team better than them.

Manchester United are a great side in their own right but they were outclassed and the challenge to a club manager is how do you bridge the gap because Barcelona are so far ahead.

They are a wonderful side to watch and the key is if [Pep] Guardiola stays as coach.

He was a wonderful footballer and he's turning out to be a wonderful manager.

They really have got things set up to dominate more than Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Ajax did when those teams dictated.

Barcelona could go on to eclipse them. It's a great thing for football to have a club like this but it's a challenge for everyone else to come up with a system to eclipse them.

The system they play is difficult to combat because they never play with a centre forward.

Messi has this free-roaming position to come from the centre and the centre-halves can't come with him because Pedro and Villa will take that space.

Messi is the greatest player on the planet at this moment. He is a special player playing in a special team.

Whether he's the best to have ever played the game, we'll never know. He gets protected more than Diego Maradona ever did, which is good for the game, and plays on better pitches.



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see also
Barcelona 3-1 Man Utd
28 May 11 |  Europe
Barca-Man Utd as it happened
28 May 11 |  Europe
Champions League photos
28 May 11 |  Football


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