Can Barca be beaten in Europe?


After all, that’s the question that is asked over and over again. Not just at Old Trafford, but at the Bernabeu, the Emirates, and a host of other places that aspire for European glory.

New Signings

Patrice Evra believes that our new signings are the key to finding success in Europe next season. As much as I like Evra, I feel like he’s merely spouting blind optimism.

If we look at the players we’re brought in, De Gea is a replacement for Van Der Sar who really can’t be faulted for us losing the final. I don’t imagine Phil Jones would have made a big difference over the defensive duo of Vidic and Rio. Some might argue that Ashley Young would have given us a little something extra going forward, but we already had to relegate Nani to the bench despite the sensational year he had to accommodate the more dependable and tactically sound Park.  I struggle to see how Young would have changed the tide of the game at Wembley.

Is Sneijder the answer?

So what then do we actually need? Is Wesley Sneijder the answer to our Barca woes? Assuming he was already a part of our lineup for the final, what kind of impact would he have had with the limited possession that we enjoyed? It’s bad enough that Barca are so dominant when they have the ball. But to have a player like Sneijder who is generally regarded as a brilliant distributor, but somewhat lacking in effort defensively, we would have been putting our backline under even more pressure to contain a dynamic Barcelona side.

Keep in mind that I’m not arguing against us going all out to sign the Dutchman. I think he’s brilliant and would aid in our quest to retain the league and challenge on the domestic front. He would also help us unlock lesser teams that come to Old Trafford and play with everyone behind the ball in an effort to leave with a point. However, against the might of Barcelona, I think his edge would be nullified.

The Catalan giants have become the standard that all clubs are now aspiring to so much so that potential signings are now being viewed from the perspective of how they would help topple the mighty Barca side.

To not sign Sneijder because of his potential ineffectiveness against Barca would be foolish. But just as flawed is the assumption that the capture of a creative midfielder of some quality would automatically put us on par with Barca.





  1. Spizzy: You make a lot of sense but you are wrong when you say that Barca have learned how to defend a counter attack. Problem is that not even Real Madrid can mount a proper counter attack against them because of the selfish nature of their players as well as the overall inability of teams to be able to win the ball back, put three passes together and send players off on a counter the way Inter was able to do with the use of Wesley Sneijder outlet passes. Sneijder reminded me of a drain in a bathtub. Pour water in the tub and it makes it’s way to that drain. Well the idea Inter had is whoever gets the ball off a Barca player must then immediately look for Sneijder (THE DRAIN) and then his genius, service and vision will do the rest.

    With all due respect to Ozil, he succumbed to Barca’s constant press and Alonso and Khedira are not at all comfortable with the ball for long moments when they are being pressed and that alone is the reason why Inter could and Madrid couldn’t break on the counter. As for us, well our midfield was an absolute joke and players like Carrick completely fold up when they are pressed because they lack the ball retention skills required as well as pace to get by a press defense.

    Another reason for Barca’s success when using the press is that it is used in liberal terms and not overused in areas of the pitch where the ball isn’t. This allows players to rest and not over extend themselves and so this is one of the reasons they are able to sustain such a defense for 90 minutes. Quick short bursts of pressure and not running for the sake of running which has always been a malady in the English game.

    The English game may be exciting to many and incredibly proud, but it is also incredibly backward and behind the times. Old school thinking and blue collar values get you sweet fuck all at the highest levels of the world game. Fergie realized that to a point in 2005 when AC Milan humiliated us and ever since then, we have been a slower team and a more Italian looking team with patience, back passes galore and possession. Oh there are times we revert to our former selves but overall, we are one of only a few English sides that have learned from the masters of tactical football in Europe.

    The big problem these days is that we do not have the horses for the courses. The proper player in the proper positions to beat a club like Barca. Even with Fergie’s inept tactics against the Catalans, if we had a Roy Kean and a young Paul Scholes pulling the strings in midfield, well then there would be a difference in the way things turned out. Composure and fearlessness is the way to beat Barca. Hold on to the ball and do not panic. How does one achieve that? By working the world tested short passing triangle system and teaching all the players on the pitch how to run to space when they are off the ball. Carrick and Giggs gave the ball away a lot because they were pressed but because everybody else stood around like shell shocked zombies waiting for others to do something, not to mention the space between players far to great. Barca always seem to have 4 or five options within ten meters of the ball carrier. Hint, play closer to each other and it is easier to find an outlet, especially if utilize the well tested and successful one touch system. 1,2’s and overlaps help create space but they also make sure people are open and defenders cannot react to players who hold a ball for a split second.

    Barcelona’s secret to their success is twofold. Press the ball carrier and when theyhave the ball, work a triangle off short passing and make sure all players are making runs into space. Our problem is we do not have a clue about what running to space means. We run up and down, north and south. Running to space in the Barca or continental system means laterally, vertically, horizontally, on an angle, it really doesn’t matter, they just go to where an opponent isn’t. And by doing this all the time they do not ensure space to score. What they do is win the endurance game and frustrate teams with their possession until they catch somebody napping or frustrated and then they snap at you like a cobra with a chip lob or diagonal through ball and Messi or Villa score.

    If they would not fall for this and get in the faces of Iniesta and Xavi and rough them up a bit or just make them know who is boss, Barca’s system would just disintegrates. Look at how ineffective Messi has been for Argentina. A shadow of the overrated little piss ant that he is for Barcelona. He is only as great as Iniesta and Xavi make him because unlike
    those two, Argentina only have talentless morons who can defend in midfield like Mascherano and Cambiasso who are good at winning the ball but haven’t got an ounce of scheming ability or genius between them. Argentina need a Veron or even more so, a Riquelme to pull the strings and truly bring the best out of Messi and the many other forwards they have who are feeling frustrated at the Copa. This is why I have never been a fan of DMF’s like Mascherano, Makelele, Sissoko etc. Talentless one dimensional players, basically CB’s in disguise. United need CM’s, not DMF’S. We need artists who can defend, not defenders who can scribble.

    Beating Barca isn’t rocket science, but it takes a different mind set, running off the ball and getting into the faces of Barca’s midfield. From that one can beat them and yes beat them with a counter. Counters are only as good as the players who get them started. For me Sneijder is the very best at getting a counter started and for that reason he would be a valuable signing, even if he doesn’t fully fit our system. Perhaps it’s time we bought a player like him and had the system fit him perfectly.

    • “Beating Barca isn’t rocket science, but it takes a different mind set, running off the ball and getting into the faces of Barca’s midfield”

      Why is every premiership club not beating your door down, WHY?

      • RedTan, buddy you’ve got to add to the conversation, you can’t just say “this is shit” (southpark anyone?)

        Groggy, I would say that Rooney can be our drain. back when we had the trinity of Rooney Tevez and Ronaldo, good things happened when rooney got the ball on the break.

        sometimes he would go for the killer ball when he didnt have to, but overall he makes good, quick decision and spreads the ball better than anyone on the team save possibly carrick (used to be able to add scholes to that list too)

  2. Short answer to the question is yes. Every team can be beaten stupid question. Did Arsenal beat them last season? Nothing to see here move along. Not every blog posting can be a success

  3. We need a Whiteside or Keane type player: who will flatten Messi (and that big girl, Puyol!) within the first five minutes… Just like Norm took out John Barnes and that dirty bastard, McMahon in that 3-3 draw at Anfield….

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