Barca must play better than in 2009 final, says Guardiola

Barcelona will have to play far better than in 2009 to claim another Champions League final win over Manchester United, manager Pep Guardiola said Friday.

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 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 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.

Great Success

Guardiola echoed what United manager 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 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."

Best final?

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 years.”

"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."

Bureau Report

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