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Barcelona 3, Man Utd 1

I watched a football match last night for the first time since the (disappointing) World Cup final last summer. I'm generally not much of a sports fan, but this match had been hyped so much that I wanted to share the mass viewing experience and also hoped that it would be a genuine pleasure to watch. I have also, in the vaguest possible way, been pro Manchester United for most of my life - basically because all the kids at my primary school supported either them or Liverpool, and on the whole I liked the Liverpool supporters less. Back in 1977 this gave me an immediate thrill as Man United beat Liverpool in that year's FA cup final. (Also even at a young age I was aware of the drama of the Munich air crash, years before I was even born.)

However, they were comprehensively outclassed by Barça last night. It was a bit humiliating to watch, in some ways - I see the post-match stats say that Barça had possession more than twice as often as Man U, and that they had 22 shots at the goal to Man U's rather miserable 4, and though I wasn't keeping as close tabs as that, the 3-1 result was an accurate reflection of the relative skills on display. One friend commented on Twitter that Barcelona were doing to Man United what Man United has been doing to every other team in England; I can't comment on that, but I had to admire the way in which their crackling energy as a team translated into results.

Which brings me to a final point: One of the ways in which experiencing this sort of event has changed is that thanks to social media one can share the experience online with people around the world (well, in this case Europe). It can pull in all kinds of people: the Finnish foreign minister tweeted in such cryptic terms about his support for Man U that the Swedish foreign minister worriedly asked him if there was some civil war brewing? (Two weeks ago they had exchanged tweets about the world ice hockey final, in which Stubb's team thrashed Bildt's 6-1.) But for me it was also a nice way of being in touch with old friends, some of whom I haven't seen in decades, knowing that we were watching and enjoying the same match along with millions of others around the continent. The world is becoming smaller, and that is not a bad thing.

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