Barcelona fans gathered in their thousands in Canaletes Square, Barcelona to celebrate as their team claimed their fourth Champions League title after beating Manchester United. Dressed in the club’s famous blue and red colours and singing “Long live Barca”, fans celebrated until the early hours of the morning.
The party started only minutes after the final whistle marked the end of the match at Wembley, where a Lionel Messi inspired performance helped Barcelona to a 3-1 victory. Some 50,000 of Barca’s faithful packed the streets, according to police figures, watching the action on a giant screen set up on the city’s Triumphal Arch.
They erupted into cheers, launched fireworks and brandished imitation trophies as first Pedro, then Lionel Messi and finally David Villa banged the ball into the net. At the final whistle the entire city exploded into a din of car horns, trumpets and firecrackers thrown from the streets and balconies.
“Barca! Barca! chanted waves of supporters dressed in the blue- and claret-striped Barcelona team shirts as they waved team flags. In the nightlife district of Paralelo, bars were bursting with fans watching screens in bar terraces.
The Spanish press were united in hailing Barcelona’s victory over Manchester United in the Champions League final as a landmark for the club and for European football. As they groped for superlatives nearly all the newspapers found space for a headline containing Sir Alex Ferguson’s quote: “No one has given us such a hiding.”
The notoriously madridista Marca saluted the victors as “A dream Barça”, with all its echoes of Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team of the 1990s. Indeed the paper referred to the “Pep Team” after their coach, Pep Guardiola, and described their football as “excellent”. The paper’s “senate” of football worthies including the Real Madrid great Hugo Sánchez pronounced the simple verdict: “This Barça is the best team in the world.”
The Barcelona president, Sandro Rosell, reeled off a list of thank yous, including to the fans, to Guardiola, to Messi (“the best player in the world”), to Carles Puyol, the club captain, to all the players, “and above all thanks to the people who believed in [the academy at] La Masía and to the former presidents who have enabled what we saw today to happen.”
El Mundo Deportivo reported that Guardiola’s team talk had been simple and effective. “Rarely had they seen him so sure, so direct and so convincing, that is, already convinced: ‘I know that you will win this Champions League,’ he said, looking them in the eyes.”
The celebrating Barcelona fans, the culés, have taken up José Mourinho’s pointed question – with its suggestion of skulduggery – of “why?” do Barcelona keep winning as a chant: “por qué?”. El Mundo Deportivo produced a long list of reasons why, including Guardiola’s brilliance, David Villa’s conclusive third goal, Eric Abidal’s return from life-threatening surgery, even the fact that Wayne Rooney’s “offside” goal did not ultimately matter.
It also added “because Leo [Messi] grew up in the academy along with six others of the starting XI” and “because when you see the way Sir Alex Ferguson congratulated Pep Guardiola you understand that this team is giving a lot to football that we won’t appreciate until years later”. The paper also reported that Javier Hernández’s agent had said Manchester United’s Mexican striker would study an offer to move to Real Madrid.
In Barcelona 132 people, including 37 local police, were injured in disturbances as up to 50,000 people celebrated the victory on the streets. Police made 84 arrests for public order offences around Plaça de Catalunya, Las Ramblas and the Arc de Triomf which come in the wake of weeks of unrelated street protests in the Catalan capital. [via The Telegraph (UK) and The Guradian (UK)]