Thanks to Cesc Fabregas, Xavi and, of course, Lionel Messi Barcelona won the World Club Cup at a canter. Santos, arguably the best team in South America at the moment, were disposed of as though they were an irritant to Barcelona. This Barcelona side take no prisoners. They win constantly, they win beautifully. They win everything.
Santos approached the match hesitantly. Their two star players, Ganso and Neymar, were touted as being equals of Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Alexis Sanchez, Lionel Messi et al. Pele, the Brazilian legend, even went so far as to say that Neymar was superior to Lionel Messi. Saying that merely confirmed what everybody has long suspected. The great Brazilian footballer, often touted as the best that ever played the game, is a terrible analyst. He mistakes actual brilliance with potential. He confuses consistent wonder with spontaneous intermittent magic. He thinks Neymar already is what Lionel Messi was a couple of season ago. Pele is wrong. Neymar is nowhere near the Lionel Messi of 2007, let alone the stupendously wonderful Lionel Messi of 2011.
The pressure on Neymar probably explains why he played so woefully. Expected to perform magic he actually ended up a handful of chances. Lionel Messi, by comparison, went past players with ease and scored a couple of delightful goals. Barcelona were better in every area of the pitch. Victor Valdes was impressive when necessary in goal. The defence, particularly Eric Abidal, were calm and composed. The midfield were intricate and creative. The attack were mesmeric. Santos might as well have not turned up. When they had opportunities they fluffed their lines and even then it felt like they were only allowed opportunities at goal because Barcelona had taken themselves out of 3rd gear and gone into neutral. Frankly, Barcelona never approached 4th gear, let alone 5th. It was a ride in the park and consequently, for the second time in three years, Barcelona are World Club Cup Champions.
The FIFA trophy, contested by the best and most successful teams on each continent of the planet in the past year, is not valued so highly in Europe but it has great prestige in South America, so there is no question that Santos, of Sao Paolo in Brazil, were competing with incentive and motivation. The case was simply that they could not keep up with the Spanish team and Barcelona continue to set consistently high standards, perhaps benchmarks that have never been set before. Barcelona romped to victory. Barcelona confirmed that they are the best team on the planet.
photo credit: prettyfriendship