One of the year’s biggest sporting events was played out in front of 85,000 spectators and millions more watching around the epic clash when Barcelona met Manchester United in May in the UEFA Champions League 2011 Final.
Billed ‘the match of the decade’ the epic clash between Europe’s super teams at Wembley Stadium ended in a 3-1 win to Barcelona.
The Spanish side claimed its Fourth Champions League title denying Manchester United the honours in this illustrious occasion.
Former Dutch footballers Frank de Boer and his twin brother Ronald were guest speakers at the THG Champions League 2011 Celebrations held at the Gloucester Hotel in London.
They gave their insight into which players in football today really capture the magic of the game and why Barcelona deserved to be crowned Champions League winners.
Earning 112 caps for Holland, Frank de Boer had predicted that Barcelona would take the title against Manchester United with a score of 2-1.
“Of course I have a Barcelona background but one of my best friend’s is on the opposing team, Edwin van der Sar, and this is his last game so I hope he wins the cup. For me the best team has to win but if I had the choice I would pick Manchester United,” he professed.
When it comes to who is the best team in the world today for Frank, Barcelona are the deserved proprietors to that title, he said. However, manager Alex Ferguson is a one-off great, he added.
“They have played for such a long time the kind of football that everyone loves. Ferguson deserves the credit from that as he is standing there for such a long time and I think he is one of the best coaches in the world. Pep Guardiola is still young but he is also a good coach. He hasn’t had the experience of Ferguson so I feel he is the best coach.”
Ronald, who won 67 caps for the Dutch national team and played with Barcelona from 1998 to 2000 said the occasion represented two great teams coming together and also praised Ferguson’s successful tenure as both a great manager and a respected individual.
“It’s not just one year they have been playing well. For the last four or five years they have played incredible football. Even if you are not a Barcelona fan you have to love the way they play. If you look at what Guardiola has won in such a short space of time, I think Ferguson took almost 20 years for that. But you have to respect a person like Ferguson who is such a long time at a club and still has so much respect. For me that says a lot about the person. He deserves the credit.”
The skill that striker Wayne Rooney and Pedro Hernandez are capable of producing make them the stand out players who are always going to form a key part of the team.
Rooney, when on top form, will always be decisive for Man United, said Frank.
According to Ronald: “I like the way the boy Hernandez plays. He is such a young lad so this hides a bit of danger because this is his first final. Can he cope with the pressure? We have to see that. All the Barcelona players have done it and seen it and lifted the trophy so it’s exciting to see if he can handle the pressure. He is a great player and I like the way he moves around the 18-yard box and find his way to the goal.”
Ronald concluded that Wembley is an inspirational venue that will certainly capture the exciting atmosphere such an event produces.
“We played there with Holland against England although the result was very bad for us – we lost 4-1. But the stadium is amazing and even now it has improved a lot as the stands are very close to the pitch so it’s very good for football. With 85,000 people the atmosphere won’t be great, it will be spectacular.”
Frank and Roland de Boer were guest speakers at the THG Champions League 2011 Celebration at the Lancaster Hotel in London.
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