Goodness! My heart can't stop racing...UNITED BACK IN THE FINAL!!!! IT'S 1999 AGAIN!!!!! HE SCORES GOALS, PAUL SCHOLES, HE SCORES GOALS!!!!!!!
Let me tell ya, I usually don't look forward a little more to United playing Barcelona. From an aesthetics point of view, it's any football fan's wet dream because both teams play football the right way, by attacking, attacking, attacking. As some of you know, I'm a half-Catalan and I didn't become a Barcelona fan, I was born one, and my father is as die-hard a Barca fan as there is. Somehow, I grew to be a United fan and when I was a pre-teen, I was a full-blown United fan (after all, it's kosher to root for two teams from two different countries). I remember a few of the epic clashes United had with Barca, and I remember having some kind of admiration as a wee lad in '91 when Mark Hughes, formerly a Barca player, scored sweet revenge on Barca. However, I remember 1998, and my goodness, it just killed me, killed me, to see United and Barca play. Fittingly they posted 3-3 draws in the group stage. Classic, classic games. If you get a chance to see those games, I highly recommended them.
So, today I ran off to the pub and like last week, I took my pop with me again just like last week's first leg, a father-son outing with me taking the United side and him, of course, with Barca, having a few beers and getting into the nervous time of it all. Most everyone there was a United fan, fantastic turnout as always from the Reds fans out there (this was the pub once owned by George Best after all).
It was a great game, much, much better quality from both sides. United didn't bottle it, but they were very tactical still and the defense was brilliant without Vidic. Rio Ferdinand is probably our MVP all year, which is saying something since Cristiano Ronaldo is only a couple of goals from breaking Denis Law's club goalscoring record. Scholes was great, think he played forward more than usual, and it paid dividends. Even Park Ji-Sung and Wes Brown were awesome. Leo Messi for Barca was terrific (so was Victor Valdez which is saying something), but I thought Frank Rikjaard should've started Henry for the second leg, although Frankie is too strict in the way he plays Henry out there.
That said, I still feel a little down on Barca, but it's a soap opera that needs to end. No more Ronaldinho, possibly Eto'o and Henry. I like Rijkaard's style, but he's out of favor managing Barca now unfortunately, and so this could lead to Jose Mourinho coming on board, and even if he forges better tactical discipline and better team chemistry, well, no one wants to see Barcelona play too defensive like Jose did at Chelsea.
As a United fan, I'm ecstatic. '99 brought many good memories, ditching school to watch the Champions League final vs. Bayern, and so this feels nostalgic for me. This certainly makes up for a very disappointing loss to Chelsea last Saturday (we could've won if Fergie played Anderson in the midfield). In hindsight, I preferred to see United/Barca play in the semis than in the final just because the CL Final is like the Super Bowl for a soccer fan and well, it would've been anti-climactic to say I'd be happy either way with either side of winning it all.
Bring on Liverpool or Chelsea. I'd want to see us paired up vs. the Scousers but because both United and Liverpool is arguably the most heated rivalry in England added to the fact United have the Red Army hooligan firm and Liverpool are a surly lot of fans, Moscow could see some fan trouble. Maybe? On the flip side of the coin, we want revenge on Chelsea for last Saturday and last year's FA Cup defeat.
But first and foremost, let's beat West Ham this weekend.