Barça better than 2009 side who beat United, says Ferrer

When Albert Ferrer returns to Wembley next Saturday night, he will see history repeat itself one way or another for his old club Barcelona. The only question is which year it will be: 1991, when the Catalans lost the Cup Winners' Cup final to Manchester United in the Rotterdam rain, or 1992, when Johan Cruyff told them "Go out and enjoy yourselves" and they did just that, winning the club's first European Cup beneath the old Twin Towers?

Ferrer played in both matches and he is confident it will be the latter, warning that this Barcelona are stronger than not just Cruyff's Wembley winners but, more significantly, the side that overcame United 2-0 in the 2009 final in Rome. "They have a better team now – they are more solid and have had two more years playing together. Xavi's had a fantastic year and so has [Andres] Iniesta, and [52-goal Lionel] Messi is probably in the best form of his career," said Ferrer, now coaching the Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem.

The statistics support his view, Barcelona having won more Champions' League games this term than en route to Rome – nine victories from 12, compared with six – and achieved a club-record 28-match unbeaten run in all competitions earlier in the campaign. Ferrer expects more of the same at Wembley. "Barcelona will want to take control, try to have possession of the ball as they normally do and get the game to their rhythm and make it difficult for United to get the ball," said the 40-year-old, who emerged from Barcelona's youth ranks alongside Pep Guardiola ("he could read the game perfectly") and later ended his career at Chelsea.

Yet if the Spanish champions are favourites, United's threat on the counter is a worry. "Barcelona don't like an open game with attack and counter-attack; they are a team that always try to control the situation. So teams with a quick transition from defence to attack and with quick, direct players can give them problems. United have great players up front who can make a difference."

Ferrer says Carles Puyol's fitness is a concern, a knee problem having sidelined the captain: "I don't know if Puyol will be available, and he is an important player for Barcelona."

Whatever their defensive worries, Ferrer suspects United will face even more at their own end. "My question is whether they can keep their own goal intact because of the potential Barcelona have up front. I see it being difficult for them. The key thing for United is if they can get to the last 15 minutes and still be in the game."

Ferrer has unhappy memories of facing Sir Alex Ferguson's men in a "tight game" that was decided by Mark Hughes' double in 1991, but Wembley 12 months later was "fantastic": from the sound of Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé's "Barcelona" filling the air in the warm-up to climbing the 39 steps at the finish.

"We were the team that won the first European Cup for the club, we were privileged. But it was a lot of responsibility – after the club lost the final in Seville in 1986 against Steaua [Bucharest], we had a second chance. Those last eight minutes after Ronald Koeman's goal were so long."

The Champions' League final is on ITV1 and Sky Sports; 7.45pm kick-off

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?