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Barcelona returning to scene of their famous triumph

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27 May 2011 14:25:00

Barcelona returning to scene of their famous triumph

Share It is not only Manchester United retracing the steps of their history to Wembley on Saturday. It is a pilgrimage for Barcelona too, back to the venue where they first won the Champions League. Among them Albert Ferrer, the former Chelsea full-back who was a homegrown element of the Johan Cruyff 'Dream Team' which beat Sampdoria 1-0 in extra-time in 1992. 'For all Barcelona supporters Wembley brings fantastic memories,' said Ferrer, now manager of Vitesse Arnhem in Holland. A night to remember: Koeman celebrates his European Cup final winner in 1992 'The stadium has changed but it is still a special place and more special today than it was when we came here 19 years ago. Going back is like going home to a page in our history. 'It was the first Champions League in our history and it came at one of the best stadiums in the world. There was a lot of pressure on us. We had been close before, in Sevilla against Steaua and lost it. In front of us, there was an opportunity that had to be taken.' Barcelona have invited the heroes of 1992 back for a London reunion to rekindle the memories, although one of their number, midfielder Pep Guardiola, will have other priorities as he concentrates on plotting the downfall of Manchester United, as he did two years ago. Ferrer said: 'Pep, because of his position, was always a player who had a vision of football and a lot of influence on the game. He always wanted to take charge and drive the team in the right way. 'The experience of playing in Italy helped him defensively and tactically but he still had the offensive spirit of Barcelona in his DNA. The most important thing he's changed is to make them more solid. They are not as vulnerable as before. 'This is the essence of Barcelona, to play good football and keep the ball as long as possible. It makes me feel proud to watch them play and proud that their manager is one of my ex-team-mates.' Barcelona favourite: Albert Ferrer Guardiola's team won when the same clubs met in the Champions League final, in Rome, and Ferrer predicts another tough night for United's defenders at the hands of Lionel Messi and Co. 'It will be a great game, a game where Barcelona control the ball and have a lot of possession,' he said. 'I see United being organised in defence, looking to close all the gaps and chase their opportunities on the counter-attack. 'They are strong but can they keep a clean sheet? That is the main issue for United. They can score goals because they have great strikers but I'm not sure they can keep Barcelona out for 90 minutes. In attack. Barca are fantastic. 'To be a great team in history, you need great strikers, simple as that. Pep has helped good players evolve like Xavi and Iniesta but players like Messi make the difference. He is probably in the best moment of his career. 'I have never seen a player who can do those things but, more than that, he is so intelligent on the pitch. There are parts of the game where he can be resting but when the team really needs him he takes responsibility. He asks for the ball and he turns the game around. That is a fantastic quality to have.' Hristo Stoichkov was the star striker in 1992 but it was defender Ronald Koeman who scored the only goal of the game, deep in extra-time. 'When Ronald scored it was fantastic,' said Ferrer, who was 21 at the time. 'I was at the back and had to run around the whole pitch to celebrate with my team-mates. It was the furthest I've sprinted in my life and I was the last to join the celebrations because they were so far away. 'You are sprinting along thinking a thousand different things at one time. It was a crazy moment. There were eight minutes to go and that was the longest eight minutes in history. It seemed like half an hour. Every time they had the ball, we were panicking. We were so close. We had done the hardest part and we didn't want to spoil it.' When Ferrer next returned to Wembley he was injured, watching Chelsea beat Aston Villa in the last FA Cup final before the old stadium was demolished and replaced. He spent five years at Stamford Bridge before retiring in 2003 and started his coaching career last year at Vitesse, a club with close connections to Chelsea. 'I have always said my goal is to coach Barcelona or Chelsea,' said Ferrer, now 40. 'I understand I still have a long way to and a lot to learn. You need experience, although Pep has made it look easy, making a big jump after one season coaching Barcelona reserves to the first team and winning everything.'  Messi may be a legend, but he'll never be loved like Maradona in ArgentinaMascherano relishes facing 'one of the world's best teams' in Man United  Explore more:People: Xavi, Pep Guardiola, Ronald Koeman Places: Barcelona, Rome, London, The Netherlands, Italy


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