By Greg Robertson
Join the team at 3news.co.nz/sport for live video updates of the Champions League Final 2011 as Manchester United take on Barcelona at Wembley Stadium. We will keep you up to date with all the action.
Refresh your browser occasionally and keep an eye out for added video as we go. We’ll warn you with a VIDEO UP sign every time we update it.
Final Scoreboard: Manchester United 1 - 3 Barcelona
There's the final whistle....Barcelona are the champions of Europe! Their stars turned up to play and delivered the goods. Thanks for joining us and look out for post match analysis on the website.
90 mins - In fact there's three additional minutes to play, all academic really. Iniesta tries a lob and nearly catches Van der Sar off guard..no more damage done though.
87 mins - Well inside the final few minutes and it seems to late for United now. They are throwing men forward but Nani and co. can't seem to break through.
84 mins - Valdes, the Barca keeper picks up yellow for wasting time, he shakes his head but can't really complain.
81 mins - If you wanted an indication of how one sided this has got, Barcelona have had 17 shots on goal to Manchester United's three.
79 mins - Valencia sees a yellow for repeat offences, refs had enough. Barcelona in complete control now, they are simply banging it about, one of those Manchester United comebacks Sir Alex?
72 mins - Man U rolling the dice, as Paul Scholes comes on for Michael Carrick. This could be the last time we see Scholes in a Man U shirt.
VIDEO UPDATED of the Villa goal, super finish...
71 mins - Shes a big hill to climb now for Manchester United...
69 mins - GOAL DAVID VILLA! COULD THAT BE THE DECIDING BLOW FOR BARCELONA? Just quality finishing from the man. Messi made a run dribbling his way through the defence, he found Villa and he curled the ball past a diving Van der Sar and into the back of the net.
66 mins - VIDEO COMING of the barrage of shots from Barcelona in recent minutes. Worth a look.
65 mins - It's raining shots on Van der Sar at the moment, the big man just holding firm at present.
63 mins - Messi nearly wriggles free once more, video coming, Barcelona seem content to bang the ball around in the mid field. A goal lead and they are in the driving seat at present
60 mins - Carrick sees yellow for a poor challenge on Iniesta, just beaten for pace really...
58 mins - It was also Messi's 12th goal of the Champions League, equaling a record, not bad.
VIDEO UPDATED of the Messi goal! Check it out.
56 mins - That was Messi' first goal on English soil, worth the wait Lionel? mmmm I thought you would say that.
54 mins - GOAL! MESSI MAGIC AND BARCELONA ARE UP. He got the ball on the edge of the box, pass, no, shoot, yes! He just hopped on that left foot and let go, evading Van der Sar like only Messi can. Video coming.
52 mins - Ohhh! Bara rip United apart down the right hand side, Dani Alves carving a path through the midfield, he finds himself with a sight on goal and shoots, quality save from Van der Sar, then Messi has a crack but United had men back.
48 mins - Pique picked up a yellow card, just missed what it was for, a Man United supporter was in my way, that devil.
47 mins - Barcelona several shots on goal but bodies behind it from Manchester United. Barca stronger start of the two sides. Video coming.
45 mins - Back underway, Barcelona with the ball early earns a corner and an early attacking chance.
Welcome back, players getting the message from their managers at the break, in the meantime take a extended look a the goals from the first half.
45 mins - The halftime whistle blows, no real added time there. This game is beautifully poised at the break, either side can take it, who will step up in the second spell? Stay tuned and we will bring you all the VIDEO action.
43 mins - Messi with a run, passes to Villa who flicks it back to Messi and the wonder kid just misses connection, so close but so far for Barcelona as we close in on halftime.
41 mins - Quality free kick move from Barcelona, Pedro nearly getting a free look at goal. They look dangerous from the set piece do the Barca team.
39 mins - Barca pushing once more, United equal to the task in defence, goal scorer Rooney in amongst the action at Wembley.
That Rooney video is coming very soon, stay tuned.
37 mins - Wow, that changed the complexion of the match completely...United looked to be struggling somewhat but now they are well back in this and boy do their fans know it! It seems Barca are also a little tentative...
34 mins - GOAL! UNITED HAVE STRUCK BACK THROUGH WAYNE ROONEY. He got the ball in midfield and quickly made progress on the left side...a little one - two with Hernandez and a cool, collected finish. Video coming.
32 mins - Rooney sends in a free kick to a leaping United player but the Barca defence is up to the task.
30 mins - That was Pedro's fifth goal of the campaign and boy was it the most important!
VIDEO UPDATED of the Pedro goal.
27 mins - GOAL! PEDRO! BARCELONA GO ONE UP IN THE FINAL! AND THAT WAS JUST A MATTER OF TIME. Ball came into the box, Pedro got in behind the defence and slotted it past Van der Sar with the right boot, quality finish and a goal with real meaning! Video Coming.
25 mins - Barca with plenty of chances here at the moment, unable to convert though as Messi makes another promising run int the box.
23 mins - Messi gets loose but the skipper is there to clean up, great tackle Vidic.
21 mins - Villa again! Plenty of space on the right hand side for him as he got in behind the United defence to get another shot on goal, video coming.
20 mins - David Villa goes close, he pulled the trigger just outside the box and didn't miss by much! Video coming.
19 mins - Barcelona enjoying the lions share of possession at present, United living off scraps as Park boots one of those scraps down field.
VIDEO UPDATED of Pedro's chance.
16 mins - Pass, pass, pass then ohh! Chance Barcelona, really good chance. Pedro received a ball in front of goal he just couldn't get it on target, a sin really from that close, VIDEO COMING.
14 mins - A promising move from Barca comes to nothing - the passes not quite finding the feet at the moment.
11 mins - Finally Barca get something going, string a few passes together and enter the United box for a bo peep.
10 mins - Pique and Valdes have a mix up at the back, Pique nearly putting it past his own keeper! Poor start Barcelona.
VIDEO UPDATED of the early chances.
7 mins - Rooney now has a dig in the box forcing Valdes to come out and meet him in an acrobatic fashion, video coming.
7 mins - Ohhh! Hernandez receives a nice chip ball in the box, but, alas he was offside..close but fair call it seems.. Good enterprise from United early doors.
5 mins - Manchester United once again on the attack down the right hand flank this time through Valencia. He teams up with team mate Hernandez. The Red Devils are all over them early!
3 mins - United launch the first real attack of the match with Hernandez taking a shot, it's blocked however...They pass it around but Barca are up to the challenge in defence early on. The crowd willing both teams forward.
2 mins - Busquests takes a ball to the face, gets up and soldiers on, on ya son.
Kickoff - We are underway, VIDEO UPDATED of the teams... Man United kicked things off, players just feeling each other out at this stage...there is plenty of noise in the stands!
6:43am - Players shake hands and we are ready to go...final photos lads.
6:41am - Barcelona are the 'home' team and are wearing their home strip with United in white and black.
6:38am - Tommy Smith says it's going to be 2-1 to the Red Devils, big call Tommy Smith with a 'y'.
6:35am - Here we are, ready, waiting, the Champions League Final is only moments away.....It was a happy ending for Barcelona back in 2009, can they repeat the dose against Manchester United? Only time will tell, stay tuned for commentary and video updates of the match.
We will bring you live commentary from 6:30am (NZT), in the meantime you can check out the video from the Champions League final in 2009, the last time these teams met in a Champions League Final.
Van der Sar, Fabio, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Park, Rooney, Hernandez.
Subs: Kuszczak, Owen, Anderson, Smalling, Nani, Scholes, Fletcher.
Valdes, Alves, Mascherano, Pique, Abidal, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Pedro, Messi, Villa.
Fans have begun congregating in central London several hours ahead of the Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United, which United manager Alex Ferguson says could be the best of the past 10 years.
Supporters gathered for a dedicated fan festival in Hyde Park, while a handful even arrived at Wembley by lunchtime for a game that does not kickoff until 7:45 p.m. UK time (1845 GMT).
Commentators widely agree that a triumph for Barcelona would seal its place alongside football's truly great sides, but coach Pep Guardiola is making no such claims for his team and its pinpoint accurate passing.
Speaking on the eve of the match, Guardiola said only hindsight would reveal whether his team deserved such plaudits.
"It's like a great film," the former Barcelona midfielder said. "You need time to pass before you can say if it is good."
Guardiola has already led a team including Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta to nine titles in his three years in charge, with three straight Spanish league titles and the 2009 Champions League final win over Manchester United most notable.
But self-effacing and steeped in Barcelona history, Guardiola gives all the credit to his players, those working in the background at the Catalan club, and the supporters who fill the 99,000-seat Camp Nou stadium every home game.
"I didn't get nine titles," Guardiola said. "It's the team, the club, the structure, all the staff. If we didn't have these people, we wouldn't get these titles. The important thing is the club."
Such is the fashion in which Messi and his teammates routinely frustrate and dismantle opponents that bookmakers rate United as a big underdog despite it reaching a third final in four seasons.
"The success both teams have had in the past decade has been enormous," Ferguson said. "It really could be the best final of the decade. The attraction of two teams with such history is obvious. Anything could happen in this game."
The coaches are agreed on one thing: each team will improve on its performance in 2009, when United was rattled by Barcelona's early goal and went down 2-0.
"I'm very happy with winning in Rome but let's be honest," said Guardiola, who as a player helped Barcelona win its first title in 1992. "We have to play better than we played in Rome and I have told my players that repeatedly."
Barcelona has done that for much of this season, with the likes of world champions Iniesta, Xavi and Sergio Busquets helping their team secure more than two-thirds possession in this season's Champions League.
"Obviously fans want us to be faithful to the way we play, to our philosophy, and we will be," goalkeeper Victor Valdes said. "If we are to win, that's the only way we can get there."
Faced with such a pure footballing force, Ferguson acknowledged that he had consulted Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho for ideas on how to approach the match.
With his side sitting deep and barely challenging for possession, Ferguson's friend is one of the select few to have engineered a victory - albeit one that was followed by a humbling defeat in the Champions League semifinals - over Barcelona this season.
"I've had a small conversation with him and he's wished us all the best," Ferguson said. "He knows we're prepared."
A win for Barcelona is so widely anticipated that British bookmakers rate a Manchester United side that has just won a record 19th English title the biggest Champions League final outsider for more than a decade.
But odds of 7-2 against United winning are more a reflection of the cash wagered on even-money shot Barcelona than any shortcomings in a side that advanced to the final without conceding an away goal and is drawing close to two decades of dominance in England.
"We are proud that in the future - in the next four, five, 10, 15 years - some guys will remember this team playing right now," Guardiola said. "If they say, 'One time I saw this team and they played good for us,"' we are glad.
"But to say we are the best team ever is impossible. It is not true."
With a penalty shootout to follow if neither team wins through regular or extra time, one side will depart Wembley level with Bayern Munich and Ajax on four titles. Only Real Madrid, AC Milan and Liverpool have won more.
Barcelona won its first title at Wembley in 1992 before picking up two more titles in the past five years. United also won its first at the north London stadium in 1968, long before the ground was demolished and rebuilt to its current 90,000-seat configuration.
"It's at Wembley and that gives you an awareness that this is a big game," said Ferguson, the most decorated manager in English football. "And I like big games."
Ferguson's players are looking forward to the chance of getting some payback after the disappointment of 2009.
"It doesn't bother us who is favorite and who is not," United midfielder Michael Carrick said. "It is about performing in a one-off game. We respect them for what they are, the way they play the game and the strengths they have."
With Darren Fletcher having been left out of parts of Friday's final training session at Wembley, the veteran Ryan Giggs is likely to start Saturday alongside Carrick in central midfield. England striker Wayne Rooney should sit deep behind Mexico international Javier Hernandez, with Antonio Valencia and Park Ji-sung occupying the wide positions.
Barcelona captain Carles Puyol said he is fit following the knee injury that restricted him to a handful of games since January, while Guardiola said fullback Eric Abidal is also available and free of the after effects of a liver tumour earlier this season.
If Hernandez can turn Puyol toward his own goal, or Valencia can test him and Gerard Pique with teasing crosses, United may get the early goal it wants.
"According to the bookmakers, we are underdogs, but I don't think that matters to us," Ferguson said. "Anyone coming to a game of this nature doesn't care what the experts say or the bookmakers say.
"We will be going out there with a genuine chance."