No war is ever forgotten in time, nor is the rivalry. Above all was 2009 and history repeating itself again in 2011, the only difference being Wayne Rooney scored a goal. Manchester United and FC Barcelona have a lot in common. They win matches. But when the best in the world meet each other, hell freezes over.
One plays offensive and the other with patience. With great matches already in their cart, this is the most anticipated fixture in the world.
The rivalry dates back to May 21, 1984, when United clinched an impossible in the better half of Manchester. With 2-0 down in Camp Nou, the return leg at Old Trafford awaited fireworks. The passed out generation of footballers came from behind to power the Reds into the European Cup winner’s Cup semi-final. Barcelona seeked their almost seemingly successful shot at the coveted trophy before Manchester stopped the raging bulls.
Continuing to dominate Europe with football, the teams under discussion have proved their worth over and over again. Soon after the ban on English playing in Champions League was lifted, the Lions from the north roared loud. Yet again, Europe saw the world’s most glorious club, Manchester United cruising into the finals of Cup winners Cup finals. And they faced a familiar but stronger opponent in the face of FC Barcelona. Johan Cruyff’s dream team were the clear favorites this time around. As the adage goes, “Even the big guns misfire”. But that day, a legend was born in the form of Mark Hughes. Unfortunate for the opposite side. United beat Barca 2-1. Manchester United tasted the sweetness while the Catalan giants looked upon their rivals receiving the greatest honor in European football.
Skipping through years, Manchester United achieved the greatest reward in European football in 1999 at Camp Nou, the bull’s pen. Adding insult to the injury was the Catalans’ defeat at the hands of their bitter rivals in 2008 Champions League semi-final with only one goal by Paul Scholes making all the difference, taking United into the finals of the competition. United went on to win the finals against Chelsea FC in an epic encounter in Moscow.
When Manchester United seemed to be undisputed champions of Europe, the La Liga champions posed another good contest in 2009. Keeping history aside and doubling their odds, Barcelona was in its greatest pursuit. When the world reckoned them as two of the best teams ever, the contest to be the number one and to dominate Europe was on the cards. Champions League Final. MUFC vs FCB. Rome was set to host one of the greatest encounters in time to come. Icing the cake was the road to the Ballon D’OR. Cristiano Ronaldo single handedly, largely, taking United to Rome and on the other end, the football world’s new greatest to-be, Lionel Messi. Finally, Barcelona managed to break the Red-Devils deadlock. With an all round brilliance from the Spanish giants and individual excellence from Messi, FC Barcelona beat Manchester United 2-0. The Catalans were now the Kings of Europe. What better way to win the greatest prize than thrashing their long standing rivals.
Barcelona, over the years, not only won in Europe but also dominantly ruled in the backyard. Already arming its arsenal with the likes of Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Villa etc., Barcelona found a new weapon in the form of Tiki-Taka style of play. Largely criticized by the critics, it just works magic for them. They love it and they do what they love. Over the years, It has troubled the best teams in the world.
With no teams devising an answer to their dominant rather ball possession style of play, they were touted to be one of the greatest team in the book of records. Pep Guardiola’s team had achieved what is said to be – the impossible. 11 trophies out a possible 13 is an incredible record. May 28th, 2011, Football Club Barcelona was into its greatest ever endeavor. A very familiar arena – Wembly and against a very familiar team, Manchester United. Beyond the threats posed by the English Champions, Barcelona looked formidable. Wembly was set, flags were flying high, emotions enveloping the atmosphere. The world looked upon for the greatest match ever to happen. From the dizzy heights of the Wembly stadium, to the atmosphere soaked players’ dressing room, every moment seemed to the roar of 87,695 fans – none more so than the ultimate honor of emerging from the players’ tunnel and following in the footsteps of many legends. Barcelona dominated the game. With a beautiful goals coming from the boots of Pedro, Messi and Villa, saw FC Barcelona taking home the trophy. The only difference between 2009 and 2011 was that Wayne Rooney scored a goal. Barca not only did disprove the critics again, but also proved their worth to the world. Once again, they were the mighty Kings of Europe.
Keeping in mind the vindictive nature of the Catalans, Barcelona and their tremendous track record, Man. United vs Barcelona is always a mouth watering clash. When it comes to this fixture, there is unfinished business. Billed as the biggest sporting club game, the answer to this epic encounter is another great match of football. The beginning to the new season of year long footballing action with the clash of the titans is a treat for the eyes. The world will once again experience a great game on Wednesday, 8th August, 2012.