With great excitement, I made my way down the I-95 freeway to the 495 DC Loop through a crawl of traffic that took 1 ½ hours. This being a ride that would normally be half that time, but I timed it perfectly. Reaching FedEx Field with 15 minutes to spare, I made my way from the back parking lot.
Had I known that extreme hiking would be involved, I would have worn more suitable footwear. Seriously, this jump into the stream and then up a muddy embankment is the path from the lot I parked in. The hike up to the venue wasn’t too bad.
FedEx Field being a mere 14 years since it opened, it’s a decent place to see a sporting event.. The heat wasn’t as bad as anticipated.. Well, it wasn’t so bad if you were me that sat down in his seat just as the sun passed behind the stadium. I arrived 5 minutes before the opening ceremonies.
It was a relief to see a decent line-up for United. Not too sure as some reports speculated that both sides could field the younger players to give them experience vs. the revenge mindset. It appeared that the mastermind of line-ups got it correct. It was a fitting line-up for a friendly match. Yet, it looked like a group that might be able to exact some revenge on the Barca side that appeared weaker than normal.
The match kicks off. Knowing the good form the boys have been playing throughout the pre-season, United were a good bet to win this one, I felt.
Barca came off the first whistle with their usual elegant passing performance, and maintained it throughout the match holding possession for 69% of the event. Honestly, I was uneasy about how it might the match would unfold. At the start.United defended well. Evra was on his game with a few brilliant tackles which made brought some comfort. ~ But the nagging reminder of two CL Finals that look all too similar kept haunting me.
All of a sudden, Nani collects a well delivered pass on the left from Danny Welbeck and slots it through the legs of Victor Valdés’ legs at the 22nd minute.
FedEx Stadium exploded with the cheers from the United fans. What a sigh of relief and joy! The Barca fan sitting to my immediate right, he was obviously from Spain, grumbled, probably confident his side would bounce back. Barcelona got back on the ball and United got back to defending. It was somewhat of a surprise that with all the possession that Barca had, I don’t remember de Gea touching the ball hardly at all in the first half.
The half-time whistle blows and it’s time to enjoy one of the better parts of paying $290.00 for the Club Level, an air-conditioned concourse with all the best junk food money can buy.
The Hooters restaurant was very tempting, but I couldn’t imagine getting my food and eating and staring at the … well, you know… Hooters ~ that I’d make it back to my seat before the final whistle. I settled for a cheese burger and one of the comfy couch chairs in front of a flat screen tv to see the highlights. There were enough gorgeous ladies to see without paying $25.00 for a dozen chicken wings.
It was obvious from the start that Berbatov wouldn’t be playing. He was the only sub on the bench with a green vest over his red kit. It’s a shame, I had hoped he would make an appearance. Hopefully, this doesn’t cause more trouble. The drama caused by Sir Alex dropping him from the line-up during the CL Final was enough for any United fan.
Again, it was frustrating to see Barca so strong in the midfield and throughout the pitch, when the match got underway for the second half.
When Thiago scored, it sucked the air out of the stadium. For the next six minutes you could hear a pin-drop, it was so quiet in the stands. Then Owen comes through for United with a great finish by tapping it past the Barca keeper. The place was electric with the screaming Manchester United fans exhilaration and long awaited victory!
In the closing minutes it was a thrill to see Obertan and Owen nearly notch another, but a 2-1 was more than enough to come away feeling great about how United were able to perform on 31% of possession.
In the end, Sir Alex Ferguson’s tactics vs. Barcelona FC are redeemed. It has not been easy to watch the entire midfield in a holding position against such a talented squad each time they meet up with Barca. Even though it was a friendly match, we were provided with a glimpse of what the tactical mastermind intended for the past two CL Finals. Will this lower the volume of ‘crazy’ of the forum doubters? Probably not. However, what it will do is provide that much more ease and comfort to those of us that trust in Fergie.
I didn’t think about the trek back to the car in the dark. Jumping back into the stream wasn’t as easy as the hiking adventure in. I twisted my ankle, as did a 10 year old boy, behind me. When the kid’s father started yelling for him to catch up, I wanted to punch the idiot parent in the head. But hey… the kid didn’t complain. I don’t really mind my ankle bruised up for a couple days after a treat such as seeing Manchester United beating Barca… In the end, it was a evening to remember, always.
Written by member Redrum Jack T
United Ship Barca Back to Spain from FedEx Field Labeled LOSERS!
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