Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mentality distinguishes Manchester United, Barcelona

Reggie Miller, the great shooting guard for the Indiana Pacers, used to call it "winning time," the portion of a game when the best step up and get the job done. It's a concept that is pretty easy to talk about - and almost impossible to actually do. The reason we call sportsmen like Miller, or Muhammad Ali, or Jack Nicklaus "great" is because when the pressure was on, they were able to summon up that focus, make that basket, evade that jab, or sink that putt, with the entire world watching.

This weekend, two teams took giant steps towards securing league titles. Both can arguably claim to be the best in European soccer, and both will meet in just under three weeks time to settle the matter. Both have demonstrated all season long that the mental part of any sport - the part that cannot be coached, only reinforced - is the difference between owning that winning time and going home.

Manchester United and Barcelona are now a single point away from claiming their respective league titles. That they will win them is a given. Over the past two weeks, the English and Spanish sides have shown a resilience that their rivals have lacked, and it is that steel that has carried them to where they are.

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