Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola has compared Champions League final opponents Manchester United to Real Madrid, in terms of strength and counter-attacking ability, ahead of the final at Wembley in 12 days time.
The match promises to be a classic, between the champions of Spain and the title winners in England, and is a repeat of the 2009 showpiece in Rome, when an outstanding Barcelona display culminated in a 2-0 victory, thanks to goals from Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi, winning a historic treble for the side from Catalunya.
And whilst Los Cules won on that occasion with seeming comfort and ease, Guardiola is expecting a much more difficult match against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side this time round.
“Manchester United are extraordinarily strong, very similar to Real Madrid,” said Guardiola, who has won the league title in each of his three seasons in charge at Camp Nou.
“They are a hard-working side and it’s very hard to hurt them.”
The Barca coach has seen United in action a lot of late, including the 4-1 demolition of Schalke at Old Trafford in the semi-final second leg, by what was ostensibly a United ‘B’ team. And the former Spanish international midfielder readily admits that he is also concerned by United’s counter-attacking ability.
“We have to be very careful because they can score against you on the break,” he said.
“We have to know how to interpret the final, depending on how they play, and play the game on our terms.”