FC Barcelona have their first contact with Wembley turf

Barça had their official Champions League final training session today at Wembley. The players were able to train perfectly normally. Manager Pep Guardiola has asked Barça to show their identity in the Wembley final against Manchester United. He added that he has already picked his eleven and that Barça need to be more intense than they were in Rome.

Jordi Clos / Anna Segura

May 28, 2011 12:33 AM

Barcelona (FCB).- Having already trained on the Arsenal training ground, they moved their Champions League preparations to the match venue today. The atmosphere seemed laid back and joyful as the media watched their every move, but at the same time there were signs that everyone was fully concentrated on the task. This is the Champions League final, and not an experience to be taken lightly. “You don’t get to enjoy finals much. You have to compete and suffer a lot, and win through football. More than ever we have to show our football to the world”, stated Barça’s coach Pep Guardiola. He added that he has already picked his eleven against Manchester United and that Barça need to be more intense than they were in Rome in 2009.

Guardiola was speaking in his press conference before tomorrow’s Champions League final, which marks FC Barcelona’s return to Wembley: “The ball should fly and try to break the players’ balance. I’d be happy for us to play the way we have over all this time”.

Coming back to Wembley

Nineteen years after collecting their first ever Champions league trophy, FC Barcelona are back at Wembley as they seek to win the title for the fourth time. The stadium has been totally rebuilt since that game back on May 20, 1992, and today the players got their first chance to play on the field as part of their Champions league final weekend shared with Manchester United.

“We’re ready”

Guardiola has been happy with what his men have been doing since arriving in London on Tuesday. “They have transmitted good sensations to me. I’m proud of this team. Because of how they have behaved this week I feel a responsibility and duty to them … These days we have been focused on United, and on our physical and mental condition. We have only thought about the final, very calmly, and we’re ready to play the best game possible”.

Game of the decade

The Manchester United manager considers this to be the final of the decade. “I am full of pride to hear his words, but we both have to demonstrate that. We’ll try to play the best football possible and I think it’ll be a great final” said Guardiola. “When a team reaches three out of four finals and also three out of six, it’s because they have done things well, maybe a bit better. We have both had an extraordinary decade and whoever loses will feel hurt, but all that was achieved in recent years will still be there”.

More intense than Rome

He also said he has already decided on his line-up and bestowed praise upon praise on Saturday’s opponent. “It is one of the most complete teams I have ever seen. An example for all the world … They have many variants, we have tried to learn about the maximum number of them, their strong and weak points, and we’ll try to beat them”. He feels such respect for United that he even said “if we play like we did in Rome, we won’t win. Watching the final, I realise we played a lot worse than I thought. We have to change things, we must be quicker and more intense”.

A great season

Regardless of the Wembley scoreline, Guardiola believes that “for me it has been a very good season. We are extra happy to be here”. On what he told the fans after losing in the semis last year, he said “we have already paid them back more than well. It was a bit cheeky of me, but the people have really enjoyed themselves already”. And he is also glad the fans have finally been able to travel to London without trouble “because a final without your people would not be such a final”.

Zubi remembers Wembley 92

The sports director of professional football, Andoni Zubizarreta, was there to watch. Speaking to El Marcador on Barça TV the goalkeeper at the Wembley 92 final confessed that “the new stadium is nothing like the old one. It is enormous, spectacular and very modern. The old one conveyed all the classicism of English football”

As for the change to Barça’s travel plans, which has meant the team has been together longer than originally planned, Zubi said “we have adapted to being here for more time. We assimilated it well”.



‘We love’, the FCB mosaic

When the Barça players came out to train at Wembley, a group of Barça fans had gathered to present a mosaic that said ‘We love’.