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Barca vs. Man United player grades

Reviewing the individual performances in the 2011 Champions League final (players graded on a scale of 1-10):

GK, Victor Valdes -- edgy start but stood no chance of saving Wayne Rooney's strike, and coped with United's intermittent threat otherwise. 7/10

D, Dani Alves -- got forward (and got the better of Patrice Evra) a lot, and was involved in some of Barcelona's most dangerous moments. 7/10

D, Gerard Pique -- calm and composed even in the nervy opening spell, only had one real moment of bother when Rooney muscled past him in the second half. 8/10

D, Javier Mascherano -- the unexpected starter when Carles Puyol was ruled out with fitness issues, Mascherano was almost caught out by Edwin Van der Sar's long kick early in the game, losing a yard on Rooney. However, he was relatively unruffled thereafter. 7/10

D, Eric Abidal -- did not join in the attack as frequently as Alves, tending to stop just beyond the halfway line, but hardly put a foot wrong to ensure United rarely broke down the right. 7/10

M, Xavi Hernandez -- effortlessly ghosted through United's defense to create the first goal and continued in much the same vein throughout the game, setting up a handful of other chances and drawing a decent save from Van der Sar in the second half. 9/10

M, Sergio Busquets -- didn't enjoy the best of the battle with Wayne Rooney but always involved when Barcelona had the ball. 7/10

M, Andres Iniesta -- combined with Xavi to boss the middle of the pitch, with opposition players seemingly afraid to make a tackle. Set up Messi's goal with a delightfully casual, but perfectly weighted, pass across the front of United's defense. 8/10

F, Pedro Rodriguez -- a real menace up front, especially in the first half, and took his goal very well. 8/10

F, Lionel Messi -- so good and such a delight to watch on the ball that it seems churlish to complain that he was guilty at times of delaying a shot for too long. Ironic that this magnet for defenders should score without being closed down. 9/10

F, David Villa -- hasn't been in his best form of late but was lively from the first whistle. His goal demonstrated great vision and sweet execution. 8/10

GK, Edwin van der Sar -- ought to have done better to keep Messi's goal out, but could have done little to prevent either of Barcelona's other two goals. Made one particularly good save from Alves, and it was his upfield punt that led to Rooney scaring Mascherano early on. 6/10

D, Fabio da Silva -- solid performance, threw himself about but didn't have the opportunity to maraud forward and really make an impact. 6/10

D, Rio Ferdinand -- made a couple of good tackles in the first half and coped as well as most can hope to against Barcelona -- though he won't want to see replays of Messi turning him inside out in the second half. 6/10

D, Nemanja Vidic -- was lured too close to Messi once or twice, but this was a performance typical of his season: some vital tackles and, on the few occasions that it was required, commanding in the air. 7.5/10

D, Patrice Evra -- must claim some responsibility for two of Barcelona's goals, having stepped out of position in the build up to the first and failed to close down the second. Struggled with Villa's movement and overlapping runs from Alves. 4.5/10

M, Antonio Valencia -- had few opportunities to attack, made the effort to track back and defend but should have been booked much earlier for at least one of his tackles. 5/10

M, Michael Carrick -- started off well, playing high up the pitch. Increasingly overrun, however, and had vanished by the time he was subbed off. 5/10

M, Ryan Giggs -- anonymous in the middle, besides his one-two with Rooney for United's equalizer, and even a switch with Park to wide left in the second half failed to see him get into the game. 5/10

M, Park Ji-sung -- worked incredibly hard in the early stages, closing down (and even dispossessing) Messi as United started the match in aggressive fashion. 6/10

M/F, Wayne Rooney -- refused to give up, seemed unfettered by the attentions of Busquets and gave both Mascherano and Pique a moment or two's worry. Started the move for United's goal and finished it beautifully. 8/10

F, Javier Hernandez -- buzzed about the Barcelona back line to begin with. However, he barely figured in the second half as United struggled to get the ball into the same dangerous areas, but almost beat Valdes to a bouncing ball late on. 4.5/10

Georgina Turner is a freelance sports writer and co-editor of http://www.retrombm.com/.

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