• Spanish press places Barcelona in the pantheon of greats
• 'Today millions of kids in parks will try to imitate Messi'
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."
La Vanguardia did not stint on the hyperbole with the headline: "Barcelona enters Olympus with the gods." El País proclaimed: "Wembley falls in love with Barça." Recalling the club's first European Cup victory at the same stadium in 1992, the paper observed: "From Wembley to Wembley Barcelona has undergone an extraordinary process of maturing ... There is no better defence of an idea than victories, but there is no better victory than the fact that the stability of a club does not depend exclusively on a final result, but on a route map. That is the greatness of this Barça, which, make no mistake, will also be the principles that will enable them to vaccinate themselves in defeat."
El País returned to the extraordinary importance conceded to Cruyff in the club's development. "There are many ways to win but Barcelona's is fascinating. No one knows that better than Cruyff, who [now] has his Barça on the same level as his Ajax, with four European Cups each. He has won them on the pitch, in the dugout and in the stands. But, above all of them, nothing is worth more than the imperishable seed he planted."
The already pro-Barcelona Mundo Deportivo was beside itself and felt the best way to express its enthusiasm was by placing four exclamation marks after the word "Champions" (in English). Its columnist Fernando Polo paid tribute to the final's star performer. "Messi. Just saying the name is enough to light up the face of anyone who has ever played football, even of the worst standard, even if they've never kicked a tin can straight. Because Messi, now, is football. Just as Pelé, Maradona, Kubala, Di Stéfano or Cruyff were, and for a few years his good friend Ronaldinho." Recalling the film Bend It Like Beckham, he wrote: "Today millions of kids in parks will try to imitate the real king of football."
In AS the Argentinian man of the match described his goal which turned the match decisively Barcelona's way. "The space opened up for me and I saw the goalkeeper badly positioned and I shot." He added: "We showed what we are and we were much better than them."
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.