The Spanish press were unreserved in their praise of Barcelona following Wednesday’s Champions League success, universally hailing Pep Guardiola’s side as the best team on the planet.
Barca became the first Spanish club to win the treble of league, cup and European Cup after goals in either half from Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi earned them a deserved 2-0 win over holders Manchester United in Rome.
It was not just the victory that impressed the Spanish media though, but the manner in which the Catalan giants overcame a shaky start to stamp their class on both the match and opponents United.
Madrid-based Marca, the biggest-selling daily in Spain, declared on their front page today:
“This team is a work of art. The whole planet bows down in front of the best team in the world. Cristiano (Ronaldo) shone at the start, then was overwhelmed by some superb play from Xavi, Messi, Eto’o and company.”
Marca, who traditionally favour Barca’s bitter rivals Real Madrid, continued their eulogy inside, suggesting Guardiola had now climbed above Johan Cruyff, architect of Barca’s legendary ‘dream team’ of the 1990s, in club folklore.
Under the headline “perfect team” in English, it said: “Guardiola rises above the legend of Cruyff and is an historical reference for all that is Barcelona.
“Xavi and Iniesta read the final as if it was an open book. United and Cristiano Ronaldo fall with pride.”
The two Barcelona-based newspapers Sport and El Mundo Deportivo continued the theme.
Above a huge two-page picture of Guardiola being thrown in the air by his jubilant players, Sport hailed Barca on their front page as “the best in the world”.
“Historic treble. Guardiola’s team win the cup, league and Champions League in a magical year.”
Inside the paper, Sport put the victory down to three key things:
“1: Barca played like what they are, the best team in the world.
“2: In the goal from Messi went the Champions League…and the Ballon d’Or.
“3: Xavi, Iniesta and Messi do not even allow Manchester to see the ball.”
The individual battle between Messi and United winger Cristiano Ronaldo was also touched on in El Mundo Deportivo.
Much of the hype in the build-up to the game centred on those two players, with suggestions that whoever came out on top in the final would go on to claim the Ballon d’Or as European player of the year.
For El Mundo Deportivo, the winner in the battle was undoubtedly Messi, saying on their front page: “Barca finish this unforgettable season with an historic treble. Eto’o and Messi, who eclipsed Cristiano, express in goals the azulgrana exhibition.”
It was a similar story in the other Spanish newspapers, with Barca receiving plaudits and acclaim everywhere.
El Pais declared Barca “On top of the world”.
“Barca, in a situation of the highest demands and from the adversity of the players missing, dethrone Manchester United with their elegant football and crown their best season,” it wrote.
AS, who like Marca are a Madrid-based newspaper, hailed Barca’s win as another triumph for Spanish football, following on from the national team’s success at Euro 2008.
Using the headline “Angeles y diablos” (Angels and devils), presumably a pun on United’s Red Devils nickname and the Dan Brown book Angels and Demons, which was set in Rome and has recently been released as a film in Spain, AS wrote: “Fabulous victory from Barcelona. Spanish football confirms its supremacy.”
AS were also quick to point out Barca could still be in for more silverware this season, writing on their front page: “The treble! (and there remains the Spanish Supercup, the European Supercup and the Club World Cup).”