Barcelona toy with Man United, Germany humble Brazil, Spain win Euro 2012: The best team performance I have seen

Over the years, our writers have been present for some of the game's greatest occasions. In the latest instalment of a multi-part series, they tell the story of the best team performances they have seen in person, which include Barcelona's dominance in the 2011 Champions League final, Germany's hammering of hosts Brazil at the 2014 World Cup and Spain reaching the peak of their powers in the Euro 2012 Final.

Rob Dawson's pick: Barcelona destroy Manchester United

The match: Barcelona 3-1 Man United (2011)
The place: London

The Champions League final finished 3-1, but in reality, Pep Guardiola's side could have scored many more; Barcelona had 22 shots overall, and goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar made nine saves for a United side that scored with their only effort on target.

United were a good side and had won the Premier League that same season, but they could not get anywhere near their opponents at Wembley Stadium. Afterward, Sir Alex Ferguson called it "a hiding" and said Guardiola's team was "the best team I've faced" during his long managerial career.

United did well to stay in the game for as long as they did and did not play particularly badly -- Wayne Rooney's well-worked goal meant they went into half-time at 1-1 -- but instead of using their usual attacking and defending patterns of play, they were in disarray for most of the game.

Spaces opened up where they usually would not, due to the movement of Barcelona's forwards, and that, combined with the speed of thought and passing by the likes of Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi, dragged United players into areas they did not want to go.

There was a moment in the first half when United won a free kick, close to the halfway line on the left touchline. Usually during that season, it would have been played short to build a better goal-scoring opportunity, but that night central defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic went forward and the ball was arrowed into the penalty area. It was almost an acceptance they could not win any other way.

Fans who travel to watch United around the world have a reputation for being some of the best and loudest around, but the atmosphere in their end was relatively flat for a Champions League final because it was apparent from very early that Barcelona were far superior; goals from Pedro, Messi and David Villa simply confirmed that.

"They play the right way and they enjoy their football," Ferguson said. "They do mesmerise you with their passing and we never really did control Messi. But many people have said that. In my time as manager, it's the best team I've faced."

It was quite the compliment, reflective of what had been a stunning display.

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Jeff Carlisle's pick: Germany humiliate hosts Brazil

The match: Brazil 1-7 Germany (2014)
The place: Belo Horizonte, Brazil

It was a World Cup semifinal matchup of heavyweights, but Brazil was thought to have the advantage given it was playing at home. However, Germany scored five times in the first 30 minutes -- four of the goals came in a wild six-minute spell -- to turn the match into the most one-sided affair I have seen at the top level. The rest of the game was most notable for Brazil fans openly weeping in the stands. Latterly it has come to be known as the "Mineirazo" and was one of those games, after which you asked yourself, "did I really just see that?"

Sid Lowe's pick: Barcelona hit Real Madrid for six

The match: Real Madrid 2-6 Barcelona (2009)
The place: Madrid

The 5-0 from 2010 takes some beating, but how about Barcelona's other big Clasico win over Real Madrid, the one that started it all off? Spanish TV aired Barcelona's 6-2 thrashing recently and, wow, it was good. Madrid actually opened the scoring, but Thierry Henry scored twice, as did Lionel Messi in what was the first game that Pep Guardiola played him as a false nine. A treble, as well as several more seasons of dominance, followed for Barca.

Nicky Bandini's pick: Fulham comeback stuns Juventus

The match: Fulham 4-1 Juventus (2010)
The place: London

When David Trezeguet put Juventus 4-1 ahead on aggregate after two minutes of this Europa League round of 16 second leg, it seemed inevitable that they would cruise through. Instead, Roy Hodgson's side rallied to score four unanswered goals. Bobby Zamora, Zoltan Gera (two) and Clint Dempsey were the goal scorers -- Dempsey's a superb lob from 20 yards -- but this was a triumph of the collective: A team that, for 80-plus minutes at a riotous Craven Cottage, became so much more than the sum of its parts.

Tom Marshall's pick: Chile inflict Copa thrashing upon Mexico

The match: Mexico 7-0 Chile (2016)
The place: Santa Clara, Calif.

This Copa America Centenario masterclass was perhaps the definitive performance from Chile's golden generation. Chile was managed by Juan Antonio Pizzi, but the principles instilled by Marcelo Bielsa and built upon by Jorge Sampaoli were central to the demolition of El Tri. The sight of Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas -- who scored four goals -- attacking, Arturo Vidal bossing midfield and the boldness with which Claudio Bravo, Gonzalo Jara and Gary Medel played out from the back was football at its best, meshing technique with aggression.

Graham Hunter's pick: Man United pull off miracle against Juventus

The match: Juventus 2-3 Man United (1999)
The place: Turin, Italy

Down 2-0 on the night and 3-1 on aggregate just 11 minutes into the second leg of their Champions League semifinal -- having being outplayed in the first game -- United suddenly became Teflon. Juve were European supremos, having reached the previous three finals, but Sir Alex Ferguson's side treated them like nobodies. An incredible display from Roy Keane, who was inspirational despite receiving a yellow card that would rule him out of the final, saw United boss the rest of the game and win 4-3 on aggregate. They were applauded off the pitch by every awestruck Turinese inside the Stadio delle Alpi.

Tim Vickery's pick: Argentina humble Uruguay in Pekerman's first game

The match: Argentina 4-2 Uruguay (2004)
The place: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Germany 2006 was Argentina's great missed opportunity to win a World Cup, but two years prior, when Jose Pekerman took over as coach, was when the path to potential glory first opened up. A 4-2 debut win over Uruguay served notice; Argentina were 4-0 up soon after halftime, as Juan Roman Riquelme orchestrated proceedings to an extent that it was like watching Muhammad Ali go to work and make everything go fuzzy for the opponent.

Nick Miller's pick: Bayern brilliance overshadows loss to Man City

The match: Man City 3-2 Bayern Munich (2014)
The place: Manchester, England

This looks stupid because I am picking game the team lost, but Pep Guardiola's Bayern were mesmerizingly good. They had Medhi Benatia sent off after 20 minutes and went behind from the spot seconds later, but from that point on, Bayern controlled things; their 10 men basically toying with City's 11 for over an hour and scoring twice before halftime. It was a bit like a heavyweight boxer with one arm tied behind his back, keeping a middleweight at bay with surgical jabs. Sergio Aguero's late goals denied a magnificent result, but the performance was nonetheless sensational.

Tor-Kristian Karlsen's pick: Spain reach their peak in Euro 2012 final

The match: Spain 4-0 Italy (2012)
The place: Kiev

This performance marks the peak of Spain's exceptional period as the kings of world football and secured them a remarkable Euros-World Cup-Euros treble. La Roja conceded just one goal in the tournament and had world-class stars at every position, from Iker Casillas in goal to Cesc Fabregas as a false nine. Italy had held Spain to a 1-1 draw in the group stage, but were never in the decider, as Spain scored twice in each half and played with an ease rarely seen in finals.

Colin Udoh's pick: Zambia's AFCON fairy tale

The match: Zambia 0-0 Ivory Coast (2012)
The place: Libreville, Ghana

Even after beating Senegal in the group stage and Ghana in the semifinals, Zambia were huge underdogs in the Africa Cup of Nations final against Didier Drogba and the tournament favourites, but Chipolopolo played a fearless game and took the Elephants to a penalty shootout, which they eventually won after nine rounds. Zambia could have laid down and rolled over, but Herve Renard's men played a game full of heart and determination in the country where, 19 years earlier, so many of their national team predecessors had been killed in a plane crash while en route to a World Cup qualifier.

Also nominated: Barcelona 3-1 Man United, 2011 (Julien Laurens), Spain 1-5 Netherlands, 2014 (Mark Ogden), Man City 1-3 Bayern Munich, 2013 (Tom Williams), Chelsea 5-0 Man United, 1999 (Gab Marcotti)