LONDON - Barcelona will have to play far
better than in 2009 to claim another Champions League Final win
over Manchester United, manager Pep Guardiola said on Friday.
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.
In truth, it was a disappointing match where neither side
were at their best and expectations are high for an improvement
all round when they meet again at Wembley on Saturday.
"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."
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.
Guardiola echoed what United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had said
shortly before about the two sides having enjoyed great success
in the recent past.
"Both teams have had an extraordinary decade, it is very
difficult to repeat the sort of success both have had, to keep
making finals and winning trophies," Guardiola said.
"Whoever loses tomorrow you can't take away the achievements
of the last few years."
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," he said. "I don't think you
really enjoy finals, you have to suffer, but that was important
for the club."
As manager Guardiola is overseeing a team being described as
among the best ever to grace the game but in his typically
modest way, he refused to get drawn into that debate.
"There have been many great teams through history, I haven't
seen them all and it's impossible to compare," he said.
"If in the next five or 10 years someone remembers the team
we have now that would be good but to say we are the best team
ever is impossible, it's just not true."
He took a similar line when pressed on Saturday's clash
being built up as one of the best finals for years.
"Tomorrow we have to show if we deserve all this talk of it
being the best final, maybe when both teams want to play and
both respect the ball and want to attack it should be a good
final," he said.
"We both have our strengths and we have to see who can
dominate the situations best.
"We want to get hold of the ball and use it, we want the
players to be balanced, to play as we have over the past few
"Our attitude is to show the world how we play, we can't
lose by not giving it our all, let's hope it's a show.
"Both teams have won their leagues and have had to fight
hard to get here so it's just down to tomorrow."
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," he said. "Of course there are reference points from
the past but Pep has stood up to that.
"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."
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