Manchester United manager tells players they have no need to fear Barcelona in the Champions League final on 28 May.
|Barcelona’s Lionel Messi looking relaxed as he speaks to the media ahead of the big match at Wembley [GALLO/GETTY]
Barcelona will have to play far better than in 2009 to claim another Champions League final win over Manchester United on Saturday said manager Pep Guardiola.
Two years ago in Rome they triumphed 2-0 when, following a frantic United start, Samuel Eto’o scored after 10 minutes and Lionel Messi wrapped up the victory 20 minutes from the end.
“We need to play much better than we did in 2009 and this is one of the things I’ve told my players repeatedly in the last few days,” 40-year-old former Barca player Guardiola told a news conference before his squad got a taste of the Wembley surface.
“United were better in defence and attack and we need to be much quicker. Everything was new to us really and there was a lot of chaos and confusion. We know each other a lot better now and if we play like that again we won’t win.”
Champions with previous
Although both sides missed out on the Champions League showpiece last term, United are in their third final in four seasons while it is a third in six for the Spaniards and the teams go into the game having won their domestic leagues.
“Whoever loses you can’t take away the achievements of the last few years,” said Guardiola.
Victory on Saturday would make it four European Cups for Barcelona, putting them alongside Bayern Munich and Ajax Amsterdam, with only Liverpool (five), AC Milan (seven) and Real Madrid (nine) ahead of them.
Guardiola was in the team that won their first when they beat Sampdoria at the old Wembley in 1992.
“It’s always difficult the first time round, you have to break that psychological barrier,” Guardiola said.
“I don’t think you really enjoy finals, you have to suffer, but that was important for the club.”
A win for Barcelona is so widely expected that British bookmakers rate a Manchester United side that has just won a record 19th English title the biggest Champions League final outsider for more than a decade.
But odds of 3-1 against United winning are more a reflection of the amount of money wagered on 21-20 shot Barcelona than any shortcomings in a side that advanced to the final without conceding an away goal and is drawing close to two decades of dominance in England.
The current Barcelona side is heralded by many as one of the greatest teams of all time, with the likes of Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi notoriously difficult to play against.
“We are proud that in the future, in the next four, five, 10, 15 years, some guys will remember this team playing right now,” Guardiola said.
“But to say we are the best team ever is impossible. It is not true.”
A final to remember?
Regardless of who wins one of the most widely anticipated Champions League finals of all time, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson is expecting a great game.
“The success both teams have had in the past decade has been enormous,” Ferguson said.
“It really could be the best final of the decade. The attraction of two teams with such history is obvious. Anything could happen in this game.”
Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdez, who made two early saves in the 2009 final to help calm his team’s nerves, was also hopeful of a night to remember.
“We want to make history for the club and this generation of players,” Valdez said.
“Fans want us to be faithful to our philosophy and we will try to be but in the end it doesn’t matter how you get there as long as you end up with that trophy in your hands.”