VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Barcelona wins Champions League Final 2011 at Wembley
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.
- Extended coverage of Rooney's goal
- Extended coverage of Pedro's goal
- Extended coverage of the David Villa goal
- Extended coverage of the Messi goal
- See FC Barcelona etched onto the Champions League trophy
- Watch Abidal lift the trophy and Barcelona celebrate the win
- Check out a package of all the goals from the match
- Lionel Messi wins man 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."