We must be better than in 2009, says Guardiola
Barça manager admits he is worried about today's opponents, in particular the 'excellent' Hernandez
Saturday 28 May 2011
Pep Guardiola has warned his players that they will have to play better than they did in 2009 to win tonight's Champions League final.
The Barcelona coach spoke of lapses in intensity and mistakes made two years ago that he feels Manchester United will better punish this time as the two repeat the Rome final.
Guardiola said: "If we play the same way we did in 2009 then it will probably not be enough. And if we repeat certain things that we did in that game then we will not win this one."
Asked what aspect of United's play he was most concerned about he replied: "Everything. I am worried about everything. [Rio] Ferdinand coming out with the ball from the back, the talent they have in midfield, [Antonio] Valencia and Nani on the wings and the players they have up front with [Wayne] Rooney and Chicharito. We have to be concerned about everything."
The Barcelona manager and his players have spoken regularly in the build-up to the final about Javier Hernandez and Guardiola clearly sees the Mexican as a threat to a defence that will probably have Javier Mascherano alongside Gerard Pique.
He said: "He is the huge surprise of the season. He arrives with such great timing into the area. His running into space is excellent and he can also shoot very quickly while moving at speed. United have brought a very big player and someone who is going to be great for them for many years to come."
The Barça coach was asked about comments made yesterday by Johan Cruyff that he would not be surprised to see Guardiola walk away from the club after tomorrow's final such has been the pressure placed on him this season.
Cruyff said: "Guardiola has worked very hard in these three years and it would not surprise me if he went after this game regardless of the result in the final." The Barcelona coach's slightly evasive answer was: "It is a privilege to lead this club in finals like this one against such a historic opponent. I have a contract for another year and I expect to see it out. It is not the time to speak about this now."
Carles Puyol, who is expected to start at left-back this evening, said it was vital that his manager decided to stay at the club. "He is the best coach in the world and I want him to stay for many years. It will be the best for the club," said the defender who will play his third final tonight in his third different starting position.
Guardiola was asked about Sir Alex Ferguson's assertion that this would be the "final of the decade" and said that could only be decided after the game. "People can talk about it being the final of the decade but we have to prove that by playing the final of the decade. We have to prove it and that will be our intention. I hope for the rest of the world that they will look back at it like that. Three finals in four years for them and three in five for us it is clear that it is an extraordinary final. We are up against one of the most historic clubs in the world.
"People are always asking about the best team in history but you cannot make comparisons. There have been many great teams. I never saw the Madrid of Alfredo Di Stefano, for example. If people in the future talk about us saying: 'I saw them play' that will be enough."
Guardiola has always denied being close to signing for United as a player when he left Barcelona, yesterday he finished by admitting the possibility existed. "Sir Alex made the right decision not to sign me," he said, "I was on the way down at the time."
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