UEFA.com rounds up all the reaction from Wembley after goals from Pedro Rodríguez, Lionel Messi and David Villa earned FC Barcelona a 3-1 win against Manchester United FC in the UEFA Champions League final.
Barcelona now have four European Champion Clubs' Cups to their name, two of which have come at England's national stadium, having first got on the roll of honour there in 1992 by defeating UC Sampdoria.
All times local (CET is one hour ahead)
That is all in terms of immediate post-match reaction from Wembley, but stay with UEFA.com for a full review of the two coaches' thoughts as well as interviews with the key protagonists from both sides. We will also take a comprehensive look at the major newspapers on Sunday morning, while our team of reporters in Spain will bring you the latest on Barcelona's triumphant return home.
More from an accepting Sir Alex Ferguson: "Our training sessions were very good in the build-up to this game, to get as near as possible to the way they play. They do mesmerise you with their passing and we never controlled Messi. I think we got the lifeline when Rooney scored and I expected us to do better in the second half, but it wasn't to be. Great teams go in cycles and the cycle they are in now is the best in Europe, no question about that.
Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta, also part of the team that won Barcelona's first European Cup: "My emotions are a mixture of happiness for the performance and for a job well done. The game was a tribute to football here at Wembley. We have enormous quality on an individual level and also collectively. We have a great coach and superb supporters."
Losing coach Sir Alex Ferguson: "We were beaten by a fantastic team but I expected us to do better and I think in the end we were beaten by the better team. That's the best team we've ever faced – when you get teams who elevate themselves to that level it's difficult. I think we expected to play better. It's been a great season in many ways but it's just disappointing to come to Wembley twice [including the FA Cup semi-final defeat by Manchester City FC] and be beaten.
"I think there's good evidence that we're a consistent European team now. Our record this season has been excellent but we were beaten by the best team in Europe and there's no shame in that. Van der Sar has been a fantastic servant to United and we wish him well. He's had a great career and played with tremendous honour and great professionalism, and that's what stands out about him."
Triumphant coach Josep Guardiola: "I am obviously very happy. It takes so much to win this tournament, it always does. We had some time to prepare for this encounter and I thought we played excellently tonight. We went 1-0 up but we knew that with all of United's history and stature they would come back at us. In the end, though, we managed to control the match and we won very well."
United keeper Edwin van der Sar, speaking after his final game as a professional: "They had the better chances but we made one or two mistakes and they punished us. I thought I was positioned well [for the second goal] as I thought Vidić was blocking that side. They are very good but I think we started the game well, same as we did in Rome, but you have to try to score the first and we didn't do that. I would like to thank everybody for the memories and we'll see each other again."
Barcelona's celebrations are still in full swing on the Wembley turf, players and staff joining hands around the centre circle. Javier Mascherano: "We are really happy with it, it's a fantastic thing to beat Manchester United. We're happy because we played the way we know we can play. For any footballer it's great to win the Champions League."
Scorer of Barcelona's third goal, David Villa: "I couldn't be happier. It's a fantastic result for us in what is such an important stadium in our club's history. We were full of ambition and wanted to take full advantage of this era with all the great players we have. When we went 3-1 up it meant we could play calmly. It's now time to celebrate with all my family."
United centre-back Rio Ferdinand: "We got ourselves back into the game [at 1-1] and genuinely believed we could go on to win. But we've got to give credit to Barcelona – they were the better side on the night, they deserved to win. They've all got a system to work to and they know how to do it individually and collectively. We had a game plan to beat them but it wasn't to be."
Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidić: "They played very well, they did a good job. When you get to the final you want to win, and obviously you feel disappointed. But you have to say Barcelona played good football, had more chances and were better than us tonight."
Wayne Rooney briefly gave Manchester United a sniff with his equaliser, but Barcelona were good value for their victory throughout. Stay tuned for the thoughts of all the protagonists as soon as we have them.
The most notable team news from Wembley is that Éric Abidal starts at left-back for Barcelona, with Javier Mascherano in central defence, meaning Carles Puyol is on the bench. For full team news and live chat, visit the UEFA.com MatchCentre. The blog is now closed until the final whistle, when UEFA.com's team of reporters will bring you all the latest reaction.
Javier Hernández starts up front alongside Wayne Rooney for Manchester United, with Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs and Park Ji-Sung in midfield. Fabio gets the nod at right-back.
Either United or Barcelona will definitely join Real Madrid CF, Liverpool FC and AC Milan in the history books, currently the only clubs to have won two European Cups at the same stadium. The Merengues triumphed at Heysel, Brussels, in 1958 and 1966 and also at Glasgow's Hampden Park in 1960 and 2002; Liverpool were victorious at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome in 1977 and 1984 while Milan won at the Olympic Stadium in Athens in 1994 and 2007. United won their first European title at Wembley in 1968; Barcelona's inaugural crown followed in 1992.
Barcelona may have beaten United to lift the trophy in 2009 but a look back at the previous encounters between the two clubs suggests there is little to choose between them. In 11 meetings, both sides have won three while four matches have ended all square.
17.57, Simon Hart, Wembley
Plenty of noise and scarf-swirling from the Barcelona fans as their favourites step on to the Wembley turf. It is hard to miss them in their bright yellow tracksuit tops.
17.55, Simon Hart, Wembley
Inside Wembley the Barcelona fans already in their seats behind the goal to our left have just given a big cheer at the sight of Josep Guardiola disembarking the team bus that is being screened on the giant screens here. The camera is following the team as they make their way through the bowels of the stadium. There are quite a few more Barcelona supporters here by comparison with the largely still-empty United end.
17.48, Andrew Haslam, Wembley
Aside from Edwin van der Sar potentially becoming the oldest European Champion Clubs' Cup winner should United prevail tonight, Sir Alex Ferguson could lift the trophy for the third time. Only Bob Paisley – a winner with Liverpool FC in 1977, 1978 and 1971 – has previously achieved the feat.
Sir Alex's chances of matching Paisley's feat are good according to a strange statistical quirk; since 1971, each year ending in 1 has featured a European final victory for an English club against Spanish opponents. Chelsea FC beat Real Madrid CF in the 1971 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final; in 1981 Madrid were defeated by Liverpool in the European Cup final; ten years later United overcame Barça in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final in Rotterdam; and in 2001 Liverpool won a thrilling UEFA Cup final 5-4 against Deportivo Alavés.
A two-time UEFA Champions League winner with Real Madrid CF, Christian Karembeu gave UEFA.com his thoughts on what tonight's finalists will be going through in the build-up to kick-off. "I think they are all motivated and concentrated on achieving their final aim," he said. "The last goal is victory at Wembley. It'll be a very good game, because at least we have two beautiful champions. I know they deserve to be here tonight. We love football, we love how they play. At least I think we are going to see a great final. I think Barcelona [will win] on penalties."
The UEFA Champions League Festival is drawing to a close at the end of a week-long celebration of football. One of the thousands of supporters enjoying in the carnival atmosphere on the final day was Paul, who is going to the match tonight with his United-supporting son, Matthew. "I'm really looking forward to the game," he said. "I think it's going to be a fantastic atmosphere." A prediction: "2-1".
Fresh from their exploits in this afternoon's Ultimate Champions match, former Manchester United FC strikers Andrew Cole and Teddy Sheringham – UEFA Champions League winners in 1999 – gave UEFA.com's reporters in Hyde Park their thoughts on tonight's game. "I've not got a prediction," said Cole. "It's so close to call this game. I only think the team who gets themselves in front have got a great chance. The other team have then got to come out so there could be some counterattacking."
Sheringham, who drew United level in dramatic fashion against FC Bayern München 12 years ago, added: "The key battle is stopping Barcelona scoring. I think it's a simple as that, really. They have a lot of attributes in and around the final third, and it's going to [need] a top performance from the back four and the goalkeeper for United to stay in the game, and then do the business up the other end."
15.44, Andrew Haslam, Wembley
Should United triumph tonight, goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar would become the oldest winner in the history of the European Champion Clubs' Cup. The Dutchman, who will play the last game of a glittering career at Wembley, is 40 years 211 days old today. AC Milan legend Paolo Maldini is currently the oldest player to appear on the victorious side in a European Cup final; he was 38 years 332 days old when Milan beat Liverpool FC in the 2007 final in Athens.
Former United striker Dwight Yorke spoke to UEFA.com about his experiences at the highest level, having won the UEFA Champions League in 1999. "Well, it's the ultimate. I've been fortunate to play at such great stadiums and big occasions and they don't come much bigger than this − at Wembley on your own turf," he said. "It's exciting. We won our first trophy there in 1968 and I hope we can repeat that today. There's definitely going to be goals in the match. I think Man. United will win 2-1."
15.19, Wayne Harrison in Hyde Park
Having starred in the Ultimate Champions match a few moments earlier, ex-Barcelona defender Patrik Andersson gave UEFA.com his thoughts on tonight's encounter. "My heart says Barcelona but I hope United have learned the lessons of Rome because that game was close after 15 minutes," said the former Sweden defender. "It will be interesting to see how they cope with the Barcelona midfield, whether they drop Rooney deep or not. The midfield will be a key area, for sure." His predicition: "2-1 to Barcelona."
15.10, Simon Hart at Wembley
Sir Alex Ferguson described Wembley yesterday as a "symbol", explaining how "you know that when you come here it is for a big reason". It may have been rebuilt since United and Barcelona last contested European Cup finals here but Wembley Way is still there, still providing a flow of expectant football fans between the Tube and the stadium in the lead-up to a showpiece game. Right now the majority of those fans are in the red and blue of Barcelona – United's fans, with their better local knowledge, are probably congregating elsewhere.
I've just spoken to Francisco Maso, a socio of the Camp Nou club from Tordera, near Girona. He was here at the old Wembley in 1992 and is hopeful of seeing another Barcelona triumph at the new stadium. "Two-nil" was his prediction as he tucked into a sandwich at the Divine burger bar. Guardiola's men might have stardust coming out of their ears but he admired the fact "they're a real team". His friend, Roberto Ila, was even more hopeful. "Three-nil," he said. "We've come a long way so you have to be optimistic."
The Ultimate Champions match has just finished, with England All-Stars winning thanks to a next-goal wins policy. In an attempt to get that that all-important goal, scored by Chris Powell, England had ten players on the mini-pitch by the end, the extra bodies being needed to counter the dominance of their opponents.
14.59, Paul Bryan in Madrid
He might not score a hatful of goals but nobody can doubt that Andrés Iniesta hasn't netted some important ones in his career to date. The 27-year-old will forever be remembered in Barcelona for the late strike that took his side into the Champions League final two years ago at the expense of Chelsea FC while his extra-time winner for Spain against the Netherlands in last summer's FIFA World Cup final made him a national hero.
Having missed out on that moment in South Africa due to his fear of flying, Iniesta's father José Antonio was determined to make it to Wembley for tonight's game. After sending the rest of the family off to the airport, the man known locally as 'Dani' begun his own 20 hour trek by road and rail to London from his village in Albacete.
In an attempt to allay expectation of another memorable night for the Iniestas, however, André warned "If we're stuck in a stalemate during the game I don't want people to expect me to score again because that doesn't always happen," he said. "All I'm thinking about is the Champions League trophy coming back to Barcelona so that we can celebrate and not that I'm going to be the main protagonist."
14.05, Kevin Ashby at the UEFA Champions Festival
It's half-time in the Ultimate Champions match and England are trailing 13-9, Jay-Jay Okocha starring for the World team.
13.40, Kevin Ashby at the UEFA Champions Festival
Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai faces a more challenging night when he oversees tonight's UEFA Champions League final, although he will do so with words of encouragement from Webb. The English official told UEFA.com: "He should go out there, be confident and have a good game because they've proven themselves over a period of time and on many occasions. The day will fly by because it always does but try to take it all in, have a good look around and appreciate what an amazing thing you’re involved in. At some point in the night, take a second to just appreciate where you are and what you're doing and what a privileged position you’re in."
13.30, Kevin Ashby at the UEFA Champions Festival
One of the highlights of the festival, the Ultimate Champions match beween England All-Stars and their World counterparts, has just got under way. A number of European Champion Clubs' Cups winners are involved, while Howard Webb – the referee for last season's UEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup finals – is keeping an eye on things.
The teams are:
World All-Stars: A Zubizarreta, Cafu, F De Boer, P Andersson, L Radebe, R De Boer, P Cocu, G Van Bronckhorst, D Yorke, C Karembeu, J-J Okocha.
Coaches: R Koeman, C Rexach.
England All-Stars: D Beasant, C Powell, J Scales, P Beardsley, D Anderton, T Sheringham, A Cole, J Barnes, D Wise, G Le Saux.
Coaches: G Lineker, G Neville.
Result and reaction to follow.
Piqué (see 12.10) established many friendships during his stay at Old Trafford, none more so than with Scottish international midfielder Darren Fletcher. "I have a very good friendship with Fletcher," said Piqué. "We played against each other when Scotland played Spain at Hampden Park and we won 3-2. I saw him there, and we talked a bit. We are very good friends, he helped me a lot back then and he really feels and lives the colours of the club."
UEFA.com exclusives: Pique's player guide, Pique on United
12.20, Kevin Ashby at the UEFA Champions Festival
Sir Alex Ferguson and his Manchester United squad travelled to London by train on Thursday and it's a journey the majority of their fans will be making today as they head to Wembley. One of that number, Andrew Gosling, has contacted us to say he "feels ill with nerves", although he added that he had just eaten a particularly large English breakfast before the two-hour journey to the capital.
12.10, Paul Bryan in Madrid
Describing himself as "the funniest one" in an interview on UEFA.com last Friday, Barça defender Gerard Piqué was quick to get to work at Arsenal FC's training ground shortly after his team's early arrival in London due to the volcanic ash cloud threat this week.
Posing with Carles Puyol in an image he posted on his Twitter page, the ex-United player held aloft a framed picture of former team-mate Cesc Fàbregas he had earlier 'acquired' at the club. "Me and Carles taking a picture of Cesc from his changing area in the Arsenal dressing room," read the tweet.
Once the laughter had receded, Fàbregas was quick to warn his friends of the threat posed by "an extraordinarily competitive" United side for whom he feels Park Ji-Sung stands out. "In the big games he's always there," the Arsenal midfielder said. "He's tireless."
12.00, Tom Kell in London
A two-time UEFA Champions League finalist with AC Milan, Brazilian legend Cafu last night gave UEFA.com his thoughts on the main event. "The two best teams from the season are in the final and we're going to have to see what happens," he said at the UEFA Champions Festival in Hyde Park. "Both of them can win because they have so far shown they have everything to win." And a prediction? "2-2", and then who knows?
First up for Cafu, though, is this afternoon's Ultimate Champions match when he will be part of a World All-Stars side taking on hosts England: "6-6" was his optimistic forecast for that fixture. A high-scoring day is on the horizon if Cafu's predictions are half as accurate as his crosses were.
Should Lionel Messi score tonight he will equal the UEFA Champions League record of 11 goals in a single campaign, set by former United forward Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2002/03. Failing that, the Argentinian international seems certain to finish on top of the scoring charts for the third successive season, a feat previously achieved by Gerd Müller and Jean-Pierre Papin.
11.20, Wayne Harrison in Hyde Park
Cautious optimism is in plentiful supply among fans enjoying the final day of the UEFA Champions Festival. Chris, a United supporter from Lancaster, admitted to being a "nervous" but thinks the Red Devils have the pace and mobility to cause Barcelona problems.
"We've got more energy about us and if we can keep one or two of their players quiet we can do it. I'm looking at Ji-Sung Park: he's been in immense form of late. With that energy and running we might cause them trouble."
Karl, a Barcelona fan who has travelled from Austria, is hoping Lionel Messi and David Villa – neither of whom have scored for over a month – click into gear. "They've had a break for a few games," he said with a smile. Who would he most like to see score the winner? "Éric Abidal."
Meanwhile, the voices of the many Barcelona fans massed in the park are audible from my position in the UEFA office. Every now and then chants of "oh le le, oh la la, ser del barça es el millor que hi ha," (Or being a Barça fan is the best thing there is) break out. Whether they are so upbeat tonight remains to be seen.
11.08, Tom Kell in London
Premier League player of the year Gareth Bale made quite an impression in this season's UEFA Champions League and last night gave UEFA.com his thoughts on this evening's final. "I think it's going to be a close game," he said at the UEFA Champions Festival in Hyde Park. "The way Barcelona play it's going to be difficult to stop them, but if anyone can do it then Manchester United can. I think you have to try and attack them. A lot of teams try and defend against them and they're just going to pick you off. You've got to attack. Saying that, I think Barcelona will probably have a bit too much for them."
10.40, Andrew Haslam in London
Anyone who has been in and around Wembley this week will know how large an event the UEFA Champions League final is, and not just for the 86,000 spectators who will fill the stadium tonight. The match will be aired by 113 broadcast partners in more than 220 territories to an anticipated average audience of over 160m viewers, with a total reach in excess of 300m viewers across the world. This will make it the biggest final in UEFA Champions League history.
The game will be covered by 38 match cameras including the spidercam camera system and helicopter camera. There will be 115 unilateral cabled camera positions and 20 technical camera positions behind the goals – 180 TV cameras in total.
Not surprisingly, media interest is at a peak with 75 TV rights-holder broadcasters and 1,500 TV production and technical staff on site. In addition, there will be 700 written press representatives and 160 photographers in attendance, plus 130 television and radio commentary positions. The TV compound will house approximately 80 trucks and take up 6,000m² of parking.
There has also been plenty of promotion around London, with 200 branded buses around the city, 450 flags, 260 posters and 810 billboards at bus stops, underground and train stations around London, as well as at Heathrow Airport Terminals 1 and 5.
09.50, Paul Bryan in Madrid
Spanish daily El País contains an image of one of the evening's possible stars, Lionel Messi, on its front cover, accompanied by the headline: Barcelona-Manchester, the greatest final at the magical Wembley. Ramon Besa writes that both of these teams are "returning to the scene of their first European Champion Clubs' Cup triumphs," and continues, "among Barça's 24,000 supporters ... will be [Johan] Cruyff. Cruyff, Wembley, United, Barça, the European Cup; this has the look of a brilliant final," the journalist concludes.
Meanwhile, Barcelona-based sports publication Mundo Deportivo leads with "Going for the fourth," while showing their local heroes taking to the Wembley turf ahead of yesterday's training session. "Barça are 90 minutes away from positioning themselves on a privileged podium," says Santi Nolla. "A healthy travelling contingent of [Catalan] fans will be looking to convert the volcanic ash cloud into rays of glory," the paper's director says before predicting, "Josep Guardiola and Leo Messi will be the keys to a final that is now just hours away."
AS writer Santi Giménez, meanwhile, believes tonight's encounter will see "the meeting of two separate philosophies; a quick and highly competitive [Manchester United] and a Barcelona side who live for possession of the ball." That said, Giménez deduces that "we are faced with what will be a game of pure football which promises to be one of those deserved of remaining in our memory."
9.33, Simon Hart at Wembley
Wembley Park Tube station right now resembles a 'Little Catalonia' for the sheer number of Barcelona fans, wrapped in scarves and flags, enjoying the view down Wembley Way. The weather is distinctly unSpanish, however − it is a wet and windy morning here in north London.
A headline in The Sun − All set for the greatest game on earth − encapsulates the mood in the English press as UEFA.com digests the morning editions in England.
Writing in that newspaper, Steven Howard says: "If Manchester United beat a side as good as Barcelona at Wembley tonight, Ferguson will join the pantheon of all-time greats. He will move alongside Bob Paisley as the only British manager to win the trophy three times ...Ferguson says it is the perfect setting for the perfect match between two clubs of outstanding pedigree and tradition. He also feels it could be one of the greatest games the final has seen. What chance a perfect ending?"
In The Telegraph, Jim White writes: "This is the showpiece conclusion the Champions League was invented to deliver, the football equivalent of the heavyweight title fight. And not just any heavyweight championship, either: this is Mohammed Ali against George Foreman. Twenty-seven trophies shared between them this century gives clue to their dominance; here are the game's two leading clubs meeting on the final day of the season to battle for the claim of which is the world's most significant. That is what is at stake."
The Guardian's Kevin McCarra believes a United win "will rank high in the greatest feats of Sir Alex Ferguson", while James Lawton, in The Independent, says: "It will take huge, maybe even superhuman, effort in the midfield, but Manchester United do have the means to win. Ji-Sung Park's recent attack-dog performance against Chelsea might be one point of hope. Barça ooze class, of course, but if United are able to frustrate Lionel Messi to any degree, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez might just plunder the upset victory." His prediction: Barcelona 1-2 Man United.
9.15, Simon Hart at Wembley
One of the best stats in the press kit for tonight's UEFA Champions League final is that Josep Guardiola was just seven when Sir Alex Ferguson embarked on his first European campaign as a manager with Aberdeen FC in 1978. In light of this, it was interesting to hear Sir Alex praise the FC Barcelona coach in his press conference yesterday, when he said: "The most revealing thing about Pep Guardiola is as a young coach he came to the club and in many ways changed the way they played.
"They have a maturity to the team from beating us in Rome to the present day. You can see that maturity and also see how he has changed the way they press the ball, they've been very impressive in the last year in particular. For a young coach he has done fantastically well, he has a good presence about him." Generous words but Sir Alex will be hoping to teach his young pretender a lesson this evening.
The UEFA Champions League theme tune has just been played to signal the opening of the final day of the UEFA Champions Festival in Hyde Park, and already fans of both clubs are enjoying the attractions on offer. It's a cloudy morning here in London, with light rain. The Met Office predicts that things will pick up, with a maximum temperature of 18C.
The week-long festival in Hyde Park concludes today with a host of big-name former players meeting in the Ultimate Champions match. The England All-Stars will take on their World counterparts at 13.00 local time as a fitting prelude to the evening's big match.
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