Barcelona dominated the Club World Cup final from first to last and handed Santos a lesson into the bargain as they added yet another trophy to the frankly ridiculous collection they're building up in what will no doubt become known as the Guardiola era.
Catalans dominated from the off and it proved something of a surprise
that it took a full quarter of an hour before they took the lead. They
did with a quite outstanding goal; Xavi with a sublime touch and Lionel
Messi with a delightful, cheeky, impish, just plain sexy chip over the
stranded Cabral. Xavi turned finisher a few moments later as the Blaugrana
carved open their South American rivals, Dani Alves prominent on the
right. There was so much space on the flanks, the ball came in from the
right and Xavi was on the edge of the box to sweep it home.
A goalmouth scramble - Barca can even make those look amazing - saw the
third goal come on the stroke of half time. A wonderful back-heel from
Messi played in Alves down the right and the ball found it's way, via
half a dozen other feet, to Cesc Fabregas, unmarked on the back stick,
and he passed it across goal and inside the far post. Santos trudged off
the field, heads on chests, already a beaten side.
The second half started as the first ended with Fabregas starting the
move and the eventual shot grazing the outside of the post via Cabral's
fingertips. Andres Iniesta was almost a peripheral figure in the first
half, but he too went close after a stereotypical passage of intricate
passing, but aside from that, Barcelona were content to keep the ball
away from Santos and preserve the lead they'd built. The third goal had
killed the game.
A fourth eventually arrived with eight minutes to go, Alves playing
Messi in whose initial control was poor, but it served a purpose in
drawing Cabral out of his goal allowing the little Argentine to take the
ball round him and pass it into the net.
This was as comprehensive a win as it's possible to see. Barca, with a
staggering 72% of possession, starved Santos. They were clinical in the
first half, pragmatic in the second. Xavi's control and pass for the
opener was pure porn and Santos were a beaten side from there on in.
It's difficult to be too critical of the Brazilians: they were just
beaten by a far superior side.
Earlier in the day, Asian champions Al Sadd won the third-place play-off against Kashiwa Reysol on penalties after a dismal 0-0 draw.