After seeing his Premier League champions humbled by an outstanding Barcelona side in the Champions League final at Wembley last night – Pep Guardiola’s side emerging victorious with a 3-1 win after a performance allying touch, precision and no shortage of technique – Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has hailed the Catatlan side as “the best team I have ever faced.”
The champions of Spain were clinical as goals from their much-vaunted front three – David Villa, Pedro Rodriguez and the best player in the world Lionel Messi – saw them claim their fourth European Cup crown, and third in their last six seasons.
“Nobody’s given us a hiding like that but they deserve it,” Ferguson said.
“They play the right way and they enjoy their football. They do mesmerise you with their passing and we never really did control Messi. But many people have said that.
“In my time as manager, it’s the best team I’ve faced.”
United had vowed to be more competitive than they were in Rome 2009, when they were humbled by their opponents majestry in possession. However, following the half-time interval – where the scores were locked at 1-1, Wayne Rooney having equalised Pedro’s opener – Barcelona took control, with the imperious midfield trio of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets taking control of the game, creating chances galore and stifling United’s attack in the process.
Ferguson compared Saturday’s loss to the famous 4-0 beating United received from Barcelona at Camp Nou in 1994, a result which helped shape United’s future in European competitions.
“It’s not going to be easy, but that’s the challenge,” Ferguson said. “You shouldn’t be afraid of a challenge. The one thing we have shown is that we are consistent in Europe.
“This may be the kind of stepping stone that we had some years ago when we got beaten 4-0. We improved after that and we want to improve after tonight.”