Manchester United catching up with Barcelona? Maybe if they sign Messi, Xavi, and Iniesta. There is absolutely no creativity in central midfield , and , one could argue, no obvious starters. No Scholes, and Giggs and Carrick both one year older and slower. Samir Nasri would be the best thing to happen to them since Schalke beat Inter. On the plus side, I don’t think they’ll have any problem getting a goalkeeper, and certainly don’t think Nani or Rooney are on their way out. Which leaves me with the big question: What does Fergie have against Berbatov and what will Berbatov do about it?
Apparently, Barcelona don’t have any depth, desperately need height, and their defense can’t, well, defend. A lot of problems for what people are calling “the best team of all time”. Are they even the best team of all time? I don’t see them beating the Barcelona “dream team” of 1994 four-nothing like Milan did or winning five straight finals like Real Madrid of the late 1950s did. They run more per game than most Champions League teams despite their possession percentage. That can take several years off of a career. And it is true they lack depth- one injury, to any of their five or six key players could ruin their season. Real Madrid are catching up. Having a weak La Liga won’t help in the big matches. They’re not getting five in a row. But they have money to build depth and fix any other problem Pep sees, plus Messi in his prime. Can they take advantage? It starts in this crucial summer transfer season.
Other La Liga thoughts:
-With their astonishing late season form, rich owners, and the smart purchase of Ruud Van Nisterlooy, Malaga could be quite a story next season. But they won’t be making up any ground on Barcelona (expect Rossi or Sanchez next year) or Real Madrid (already got Sahin and Altintop, Coentrao seems a certainity).
-The Spain dressing room must have been tense v. USA. But the tensions seem to have calmed down after the Madrid signings and Barcelona winning the Champions League. Both teams doing their thing, right?
-Cesar Sanchez still has some good games left in him. Villareal getting him caught me by surprise.
-Watch Real Betis next year, too. They tore up the Segunda Division and beat Barcelona too.
Transfer season in five words: CLEARANCE SALE-All English clubs
Euro Qualifying in five words: England, France, England, France, England
African Nations Cup Qualifying: When favorites lose, blame format
Champions League Final: Why (United player name here) should/n’t have played
Next time, transfer season predictions and Argentina’s striker dilemma.