Pep Guardiola, coach
On 2009 final: We watched the 2009 final again and Manchester United was a lot better than us in the first half. If Gerard doesn’t get to that ball faster than Park in the 2009 final, it’s 1-0 for them and the game can change.
About Sir Alex Ferguson: If you can be around for so long, and win so many trophies, it’s clear Ferguson is one of the great coaches in history.
About Man United: Manchester United are one of the great teams of the last 10-15 years; it’s an honour to play against them.
I don’t agree this is a weaker Man United. If you see the squad, all those quality players, what more would you want?
Out of everyone at Manchester United, I would pick out Scholes he is the best midfielder of his generation. I would have loved to have played alongside him. Chicharito is [also] a star. He moves very well. He has been the big surprise. We’ll see if he plays together with Rooney.
On Man Utd tactics: [They] can both put a lot of pressure high on the pitch, or draw back and defend well in their own area.
On tomorrow’s final: You never know [what will happen], but I think we’ll see a good final. The problem in the final could be that the team afraid to lose. Playing in England, close to home, might be an advantage for United. But for us, it’s a joy to play a final in England.
The inner will of the players is crucial to win the Champions League, being able to give that little bit extra.
On Barça’s tactics: You should see if the opponents allows it, but as always our plan is to attack.
I already have the base, but there are still some doubts left about the line-up for the final.
On Barça’s slogan “mes que un club”: Why [is it] more than a club? Because it’s not just football; it’s cultural, it’s history, a fight for freedom, for rights.”
Andoni Zubizarreta, sports director
On Man Utd: You can only admire the stability of a club like Manchester United – how they’re able to build and rebuild a team.
On Barça: We’ve been pretty solid in a very intense season that has put enormous pressure on the team, given the large number of our players that were involved in the World Cup. Luckily those extra efforts haven’t taken their toll, and we’ve continued to put in top-level displays, reaching all the finals we’ve been involved in. That speaks volumes for the competitive nature of this side.
On tomorrow’s final: I’ve got mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, there’s a certain peace of mind, because the team is playing well, we’ve won the league, and that gives you a real sense of satisfaction. On the other, there’s a real excitement about taking part in another final, and facing a team of the calibre of Manchester United in an arena as mythical as Wembley.
We’re up against an incredibly competitive side with a great history, which should make for an excellent match.
About key factors likely to decide the game: That’s the million-dollar question before any big final. You have to be able to play your own game, but you’ll always be influenced by your opposition.We won’t control the match for 90 minutes, but that’s the beauty of football – the uncertainty, the surprises, the little details. It’s a sport that creates a situation where Messi can pop up out of nowhere with a headed goal.
On playing at Wembley: Although we could never claimÂ Wembley as our own, it’s still a stadium that is closely linked to the history of our club. But given the stage, the venue doesn’t matter all that much when it comes down to it. Being in a Champions League final should provide enough motivation in itself.
On favourites: A final of this magnitude is always a special and unique event. There’s no clear favourite, and in any case that particular label doesn’t offer any advantages or guarantee any goals.
About Pep in 1992: At the time Guardiola was a kid whose career in top-level football was just beginning. He was like one of those young players you see nowadays who are brought into the first team straight away. He played an active role in our historic achievement. From that point on he developed, learned and passed on his knowledge of the game.
About Pep now: he is restoring some glory to the club that’s always been closest to his heart. He demands a lot of his players, and produces the most attractive football you’re likely to see. He’s very committed to the cause, and has been wherever he’s gone. And no, I would never have guessed that he would go on to become a coach
Eric Abidal, leftback/centreback/KING
If he will be available for the final: I will try to recover. I am very happy to be back in the squad. I need to take it step by step after the big surgery I went through. So far my body is responding very well, but I shouldn’t rush it. So far I have felt really good but if I don’t play the next game it’s not a problem. I have a fantastic job and the most important thing is to have good health.
On Barça: Barcelona was a childhood dream for me. I had to work very hard and make a lot of sacrifices but today I am very happy to be living my dream.
On how to defend against Messi: It’s our little secret. If I answer that question, it will give it away to every other team. The problem with Leo is that no one knows what he will do. He is from another planet. He can do anything, he’s proved that despite his age. He still has many more years to come, and I hope he wins the Ballon d’Or more than anyone else as he is so talented. We saw it against [The Evil Empire] in the Champions League at 1-0 he dribbled past four players to score. It’s incredible.
On 2009 final [Note: Abidal was suspended and did not play]: That game was massive. We wanted to deliver a big performance and we did. That’s why we always come back to the motto, ‘More than a club’. Whether it’s the fans, the boys on the bench, the players in the stands or the ones on the pitch, we were strong mentally and convinced we could achieve something. The players who were there and who played that day were fantastic.<
Dani Alves, right back/energizer bunny
On how he thinks tomorrow’s final will play out: I imagine that both sides will play a very open game, because they’re both teams that like to play football that try and create chances and attack from the off. I’m sure it’s going to be a great spectacle because, at the end of the day, that’s what you expect from a meeting of Europe’s two best teams.
[Personally] I want to enjoy the final as if it was my first game.
On Manchester United:
If he considers himself a crucial part of the team: Well, I think crucial is going a bit far but, yes, I do believe that I’m an important part of our playing system. It’s clearly hard for anyone to stand out in a squad that has so many star names, which is why I’m so happy to have that opportunity. I think it’s vital for players to feel that they are important. It really does you good.
On which type of opponents cause Barça the most problems: I think those teams that put everyone behind the ball make life most difficult for us. Whenever we know a team’s going to totally shut up shop against us, we study them carefully to see if we can find another way to get our game going. But that’s always the most difficult challenge: opponents that are only interested in closing down any spaces.
On the key(s) to Barça’s success: What has brought us so much success is our ability as a team to adapt to our opponents’ approach. One of the key factors in Guardiola’s work at the Barcelona helm is being able to make things simpler. Simplifying the game is something that we really work on every day in training.
[Whether he plays as a right winger than right back] always depends on the game. In the matches against [The Evil Empire] for example, who set themselves up to hit us on the break and looked to particularly exploit their left flank, of course the situation meant I couldn’t attack as much.
On losses, pressure, and Barca’s mentality: Losing is always painful, even more so when a team’s grown used to good results. But we’re mature enough to know that we’re up against opponents of the highest quality, the best teams on the planet. What matters is that we don’t change the way we approach the game: we have our playing philosophy and we’ll stick to that come what may.
We know that when we lose it’s our fault and conversely, when we win it’s down to us too. It’s good to be aware of that. And you always get fresh opportunities in football, such as us getting the chance to reach another [Champions League] final and even managing to get one over the same coach that knocked us out last season.
On Pep: Guardiola is a sensational guy. When he was a player he already behaved like a coach out on the pitch: he used to boss the team. He’s a very reasonable man, he knows the players well and knows exactly what they need. We know that he’s always on our side. Soon after I joined we had a conversation that had a big impact on me. He called me over and said: ‘I don’t want you to change the way you play’. And of course he mentioned one or two things that I could work on, but he also told me not to worry. Keep playing the way you’ve always played, because that’s why we signed you.’ That kind of thing gives a player a real boost. And even now, thanks in large part to him, I know that I still keep getting better.
Lionel Messi, forward/monster
On Man Utd tactics: I don’t know how they will play, but we will play as we always do and will try to have the ball as much as possible. It will be a special game and we will look for their defects.
On his memories of the 1992 CL final: I was 5 years old. I don’t remember anything from that day.
On favourites: In a final there are no favourites. Both teams can win. Details often decide [the match].
If he is nervous: No, I’m not nervous, but [I am] a bit impatient for the moment to be there, wanting to play and try to win.
If he thinks Barca will win: [Yes]. I always think we’re gonna win. I believe in the team, the other players. If we do what we can, we can win.
Javier Mascherano, defensive midfielder/centreback/mini-boss
On getting to the CL final: I have dreamed of getting to the Champions League final again, because it is very difficult to make it
For footballers that play at the big clubs like me, taking part in the Champions League every year is a normal thing, but not many make it to the last match, the final it’s like playing at the World Cup.
On his role: Centre-back is not my position, obviously, but when you don’t play in your position you try and adapt and show other qualities.
As I said when I arrived here, I came to help and whether it’s on the pitch, the bench or in the stands, I try to give my all. I’m really happy with my first season here. Won the league, cup final, now CL final. I’ve enjoyed the season so much.
On favourites: We don’t have any advantage. It will be a mistake if we think that Man United is a weak team.
On Man Utd’s danger players: Rooney is the player that makes the difference at Manchester United. He has been so important for the team in the years he has been there. He is a really important player at the club and one of the best in the world.
Xavi, central midfield/cerebral dictator
On Man United: United are a much better team than in 2009. Ronaldo gave them something extra in attack, but he made the team weaker in defense.
On Messi: Leo is smart. He feels superior and plays with you: when you put your foot, he already put his earlier. And then he’s gone.
On squad unity: The players are close. We visit each other’s homes, hang out together. It’s the first time that happens, and I’m here for 13 years.
David Villa, striker/offside king
I joined Barça to play games like this, also to experience the whole build up. I’m very motivated.
Scoring in the final? That would be a dream, but all I’m really thinking about is lifting that cup, no matter who scores.
I think the 2 best of Europe play the final. United changed little since 2009, maybe they feel liberated after Ronaldo’s exit.
The Dream Team changed the club’s way of thinking, concentrate on yourself and not worry about the opponent.Â The most spectacular thing of Barça is when they don’t have the ball. It doesn’t take 10 seconds to get it back. Wonderful to see.
Ferguson’s secret to stay 25 years at United? The secret is that he’s the boss. And that he has always respected the club.
I’ll be at the final in spirit because I have good friends who will be playing so my heart will be with them. I definitely hope Barcelona win. But you never know what will happen. Both Manchester United and Barcelona have improved [since the 2009 final]. I hope it will be a beautiful final.
The final will be an easy game for Barça as they’ll just play their usual game. United will have more pressure.Â Barcelona has to go out with a winning mentality. What if they don’t win? Only not getting to the final is a failure.
Berbatov, who I fear more than Rooney and Chicharito, is my compatriot and I wish him the best, but this Barça is ‘very Barça’.
On final: If Barcelona turn up, they win. They got to have a bad day for United to have a chance. Either that or United get lucky.”
On Fergie: Ferguson is the greatest British manager. Even if they lose it won’t be down to him but due to an incredible Barca.
On his tactics: I think Alex will play with Hernandez up front, Rooney off him, flood the midfield and counter-attack as quickly as possible.
Hoek, goalkeeping coach: Both Van der Sar and Valdes are very complete goalkeepers. It’s very difficult to surprise them. You might beat Victor on his right, Edwin by sending a ball from 1 side to another near the goal-line, he needs time to get there.
The Yaya Toure (Man City): “Barça are the favourites because they’re the best team. But United have the advantage they know Wembley.
Sir Alex Ferguson, coach
On 2009 CL final: A sudden lapse of concentration cost us in 2009, so concentration is going to be the key for us.
On Barça favourites by the bookmakers: There is no advantage. It doesn’t matter. I know my players will be ready.
On squad selection:
On Messi: There is always a solution to every good player. Hopefully we can find one on Saturday.
Nemanja Vidic, central defender
On 2009 CL final: We remember how it feels to go to the final and lose. One of the saddest moments in my career. We haven’t forgotten that.
On how to play Barca: You have to be intelligent. Barcelona have quality but also weaknesses and we’ll try to exploit them.
On his own team’s mentality: We have to focus, then it won’t be a big deal to handle the things we know will come. Their players have a different mentality than us. But it won’t be a problem to deal with these things. They may do things and argue more than they should do but it won’t affect us.
Rio Ferdinand, central defender:
Darren Fletcher, central midfielder
Edwin Van der Sar, goalkeeper
Javier Hernandez (Chicharito), centre-forward
On Pique, Puyol and Barca: They are two world-class centre-backs. But the whole team consists of world-class players, and that’s what the team and I are aware of that we have to focus on their whole team, not on individual players. That’s how you get prepared, you focus on the whole team and how they play. We also know we should first focus on ourselves and our game and how we want to succeed.
Dwight Yorke, former Man Utd player:
As much as we sit down here and say Barcelona are the best, which they probably are, don’t tell me they cannot be beaten. Barcelona’s defence is arguably the weakest part of their team and United will try to expose that as much as possible.
Hernandez is the buy of the season. When you have players like Giggs who can find the pass he can be very dangerous.
Nicky Butt, former United player: Barcelona will not like playing against Park. He is so difficult to play against because he is non-stop.
Giovanni Trapattoni, Republic of Ireland coach
It is a final featuring the two best teams in Europe. From a technical point of view, the two are different a very strong Anglo-Saxon team against a Barcelona team rich in imagination and brilliant technique. Manchester United have that special English character; they’re used to very skilful but also tough battles. Barcelona, on the other hand, play a beautiful game and I think if Barcelona get to play their football, they will win the title, although experience tells me that in 90 minutes like this, anything can happen.
The differences between wining and losing at such a high level can be the smallest mistake, or the slightest lapse of concentration. It will be important for the teams to have the right approach. This depends on whether you have confidence in your own ability or if you are scared of making mistakes.
On both coaches: Sir Alex is the same age as me and has won the lot. He is used to this kind of match, so he has the experience, and that is very important. He knows about the character and mentality of his players also. On the other hand we have Pep, who is a young, up-and-coming coach. He lacks that experience, but has great quality in his team and he doesn’t get nervous.
Mircea Lucescu, FC Shakhtar Donetsk coach
The two best teams in Europe are in the final so I expect it to be very, very spectacular. These are two teams with great experience and a lot of history behind them, and the coaches are very important, with one a lot younger than the other.
On team’s coaches: Sir Alex Ferguson is very experienced. He has won absolutely everything. He lives for his club and he is an example for other coaches. The same goes for Josep Guardiola; he grew up in Barcelona and he spent most of his life with the club, so he shares their philosophy. You can hardly imagine either coach going off to sign for someone else. You can also see from these two teams what the coaches think about football.
On Barca: Barcelona have very skilful players and good organisation. Their forte is possession, controlling the direction and rhythm of the game. They know exactly what they have to do.
On Man Utd: [They] are a better-built team physically, with fast players who can play direct football; they are dangerous going upfield quickly and on the counterattack. That power could decide this match, and they also have the advantage of playing in England.
Stole Solbakken, FC Copenhagen coach
I expect Barcelona will have the ball for 65-70% of the match and that United will set out with a 4-5-1 formation and hope that they can get some players behind the Barcelona back four when they get the chance. However, Barcelona will not have an easy task because United have a strong midfield and I expect that they will be able to hold the Barcelona midfield.
Barcelona’s passing ability and the way they keep the ball for such long periods is outstanding. When we (Copenhagen) played them, the matches felt so long!
On Messi: He is always ready to do something unexpected. He seems to be resting while the other players are working but then he explodes into action and is then very difficult to stop.
On Ferguson: I think every coach admires Sir Alex Ferguson; most of all his hunger for success which never seems to change.
Unai Emery, Valencia coach
On the final: it is a game between two teams with differing styles but with one important characteristic in common; they are both winners. The main quality that Barcelona have is their ability to control the game. It’s difficult to compete with them when they have so much possession and stroke the ball around so well.
United know how they want to play and that’s what makes them winners. Out on the pitch they always demonstrate their superiority but that will be trickier against Barcelona; they are coming up against a different class of rival. Both sides have individuals who can make a difference although in this respect I think Barça might have the edge.
Massimiliano Allegri, Milan coach
I expect a very tight match. Both teams have world-class players so I expect to see plenty of goals too. The teams are both good as groups. They have a lot of quality individuals yet their squads are very strong as well. Lionel Messi and Wayne Rooney were definitely the two players who caught my eye most this season and I think they will be the main protagonists. However, the match will be won in midfield.
Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal player:
On Man Utd’s players and tactics: Manchester will play against Barça like they always do against us (Arsenal): with 3 players in a solid midfield and 3 up front.
I think Fabio [da Silva] will be [the] right back. If O’Shea plays, Ferguson sends a message of fear to his team. In a final, you have to be brave. Ferdinand and Vidic are United’s foundations. Experienced and physically very strong. Their duel with Messi will decide the final.
Park will play, he is always there in the big games. He never gets tired.
Van der Sar wins finals for his team. He grows on big occasions and will want to retire with a win. It’d make him a legend.
Set pieces are crucial in finals. Ferguson knows their best chances could come from corners and free kicks. Vidic is very dangerous.
Gianfranco Zola (former Chelsea player): “Some time ago, I thought Barça would win easily, but now United are in great form and they can win.
Barcelona is a fantastic team. It’s incredible what they’re doing. Every time I see them, they are playing better. I think Barcelona are close to being the best team in history. I have seen other great teams, but this Barça is really amazing.
David Silva (Man City player): “United is a very complete team, solid, with a lot of different tactical options in attack.
In important games, United have often played with only one striker, so it wouldn’t surprise me they’d do that again in the final.
All quotes courtesy of @barcastuff, skysports.com, independent.co.uk, guardian.co.uk, sport.es, mundodeportivo.es, elpais.es, uefa.com, fifa.com
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