The Serbian admitted that the Champions League final defeats to Barcelona in 2009 and 2011 were two low points for the Red Devils and the Catalan manager’s best use of the Argentine forward was the main reason for Barca’s success.
“Guardiola changed Messi,” Vidic told The Athletic.
“He used to play on the right and had a tendency to cut inside. He was dangerous but predictable.
“Guardiola made him central and he became better. The whole team began to play for him. He runs at defenders with wingers running alongside him. I played against him twice and we lost both times. It’s hard to admit they were the better team, still hard to say and it’s still hard to take.
“We had a great team in 2009. We could’ve done better. We were the European and world champions, Barcelona were more scared of us than we were of them. Beating us gave them more belief. Rome was a tipping point for Guardiola’s Barcelona.”
On Fridayone of the best strikers of his generation, Samuel Eto’o, decided to call it a day on his glorious career.
Best known for his incredible run at Barcelona, the Cameroonian star was a crucial entity of the Catalan club’s first-ever team that won the treble.
Eto’o followed it up by winning the treble with Inter in the very next season (2009/10) to become the only player to have won successive trebles, let alone with two different clubs.
With 359 goals and 116 assists in 718 games across all clubs and competitions, Eto’o established himself in the upper echelons of marksmen.
His vast trophy collection includes three La Liga (2004/05, 2005/06, 2007/08) and two Champions League titles (2005/06, 2008/09) with Barcelona, a Serie A (2009/10) and a Champions League title (2009/10) with Inter and two Africa Cup of Nations titles with Cameroon (2000, 2002).
Eto’o scored several iconic goals throughout his career. We pick some of the best based on the context and aesthetics of the goal.
For Barcelona, against Manchester United, Champions League final 2008/09
Context: Barcelona were one win away from the first European treble in their history. But that win had to arrive against Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United that had won the Premier League that season and a double in the previous season.
Eto’o scored in the 10th minute to hand his team an early lead that was eventually doubled by Lionel Messi in the 70th minute. The Spanish giants cruised to a comfortable win and the Cameroonian celebrated the second Champions League trophy of his career.
Goal description: Andres Iniesta made a surging run through United’s midfield before finding Eto’o out wide on the right. The Cameroonian received the ball, turned past Nemanja Vidic and left the ace defender on the ground. He then slotted the ball at the near-post past a hapless Edwin Van der Sar as Michael Carrick’s sliding attempt to block the ball went in vain.
For Inter, against Livorno, Serie A 2009/10
Context: Livorno were definitely not among the best sides in the Serie A that season. In fact, they went on to finish at the bottom of the table. However, a bicycle kick is a sight to behold, regardless of the goal, especially when it follows an impressive curling finish just five minutes before.
Goal-description: Eto’o was closely marked in the box as he awaited a cross from Goran Pandev from the right wing. The Macedonian forward spotted a cheeky run from Eto’o as he slipped past his marker.
Pandev delivered a perfect cross for the Cameroonian to head home but instead, he pulled off a near-perfect bicycle kick to double his tally.
For Barcelona, against Arsenal, Champions League final 2005/06
Context: Barcelona’s quest for their first-ever Champions League did not start sweetly in the final game. After a poor start, they conceded to Sol Campbell in the 37th minute and were unable to open up Arsenal’s defence.
With just 14 minutes of regulation time left, Eto’o stamped his name in Barcelona’s history books with a wonderful goal to level the scores. Juliano Belletti added another in the death to hand Barcelona the title as Eto’o collected his Man of the Match award.
Goal description: Andres Iniesta played a prefect weighted pass to Henrik Larsson who was closely marked in the area. The Sweden international laid off an unmarked Eto’o who squeezed it into the near post. Arsenal custodian Manuel Almunia could only stare and watch his team’s Champions League dreams come crashing down.
For Chelsea, against Manchester United, Premier League, 2013/14
Context: Eto’o had an opportunity to gift manager Jose Mourinho his 100th Premier League victory against the then mighty United. He took Chelsea to a 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge, scoring all three goals.
Manchester City would go on to win the title, but Eto’o handed his team a crushing win over a rival and ensured they stayed in the title race until the penultimate round.
Goal description: The best of the lot from what was an incredible hat-trick, the striker’s first goal was a great hit from the edge of the box. Jonny Evans’ poor header brought the ball to Eto’o’s feet on the right side of the attacking third. He then hoodwinked Phil Jones with a drop of the shoulder and continued drifting inwards before pulling the trigger from the edge of the box.
The ball took a slight deflection off Carrick before beating David De Gea at the far post. Despite the deflection, it was an incredible goal from Eto’o given the context and the strength of opposition.
Sergio Busquets has tipped Barcelona team-mate Frenkie de Jong and Spain national team-mate Fabian Ruiz to become the best midfielders in the world in the years to come.
The Dutchman is slowly fitting into the Barcelona side after his transfer this summer, while the Napoli midfielder is also beginning to establish himself as a crucial figure in Spain’s midfield.
Busquets praised their quality and claims they will become the best in their positions one day.
“They are two great players,” Busquets told the press, according to Marca.
“They’re very young with a lot to give now and in the future. They’ll be the best in their position.”
Spain were pushed to the brink by Romania in their Euro 2020 qualifier on Thursday and it took an inspirational performance from Kepa Arrizabalaga for the visitors to win 2-1. Busquets claimed that Spain were dominant despite what the scoreline suggested.
“It seemed that we lost control, but it wasn’t really the case,” Busquets explained.
“We had them under control as far as was possible. The red card changed everything, but I still think that we didn’t suffer that much despite the chance that Kepa stopped.”