In the build up to Saturday’s Champions League Final, Redflagflyinghigh decided to speak to leading Barcelona site totalBarça to get the Catalonian point of view.
In the second of our two part interview writers Maria Ines Fernandez and Hady Ezzedine were kind enough to answer our questions on everything from the lack of Final tickets, United players they fear and and who -other than a certain diminutive Argentinean- The Reds should be wary of.
Q. Which United players do you fear and why?
Maria: I think the whole team is complicated as they are more consistent this season. They seem to have a solid defense and also good players to counter-attack. For me, the most dangerous player has to be Ryan Giggs as he is experienced, talented and knows exactly how to make the best out of his team mates. Fast players such as Hernández and Nani are a major threat as well.
Hady: United have a squad full of great names who’ve written football history all the way from Scholes to Rooney. I have a certain admiration for Ryan Giggs – truly a living legend. Man that guy is incredible, the older he gets the better he plays. I hope that Xavi plays for Barca as long as Giggs has for United, and with the same consistency.
Giggs is dangerous along with Rooney, Valencia, Nani & Chicharito. I have much respect to all of them and I hope to see a good game from both sides will all players displaying their full potential.
Q. Who- again other than Messi- should United be wary of in the Barcelona side?
Maria: The logical answer would be Xavi and Iniesta. But honestly, Barça’s biggest strength comes from the exceptionally high work rate of each one of our players. They are masters on keeping the ball, even our defense, and once they get it, it’s hard to take it back. The attacking line performs extraordinary pressing, which allows the team to recover the ball faster and creates scoring chances on a regular basis. Also, another thing that United should be aware of is our attacking line is quite different from last season and from 2009. We have a different pace this year. Everything seems to happen faster. David Villa has contributed a lot on adding surprise and speed to the attack. Plus Pep Guardiola likes to make positional changes in key games, we don’t know what he is going to do this time!
Hady: I think United must be ready to face 4 players in a very strict manner other than Messi. They are: Villa, Iniesta, Pedro, & Xavi. Villa is able to turn the game around he has great movement and good reading of the game plus a fatal pass from Xavi to Villa’s legs can never be wasted. Iniesta is the one who truly connects the whole team together. He is very fast and light on the ball and can go past defenders easily. Pedro is a threat as well he is speedy and seems to be in the right place at the right time to score. And Xavi – well respected by everyone and unarguably the best passer of the football.
Q. Will you be going to Wembley?
Maria: No I won’t. I tried to, since I am a member, I have the right to apply for a ticket. I did but wasn’t awarded one.
Hady: Unfortunately, no. I will not be able to make it to a legendary place where Barca won their first ever Champions League. I have a number of friends who are going though and I hope they don’t forget to get me some souvenirs from London.
Q. Have Barcelona fans been as upset with the lack of tickets available and the prices as United fans have, it must be a nightmare for fans travelling from Spain?
Maria: There are a huge number of Barca fans. But only members (Socis) have the right to apply for a ticket through the official site. Among members, there is a general feeling that we got a very small amount of tickets. We were told that we would get 25,000 tickets, which got reduced to 16,000 after member associations (penyes) and club’s guests. There were about 100,000 applications for tickets from Barça’s members, so the 16,000 tickets awarded are a pretty low sum. People are also worried that some members applied to re-sell their tickets and they are already doing it! The club is doing nothing to stop it, despite knowing who they handed the tickets to.
Hady: I have heard many complaints about this issue. Unfortunately, no one can do anything about it now. All the people travelling from Spain were just as enraged, as it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I hope the fans who are going will give a great atmosphere though I know I will make my own when I’m watching it on my TV.
Q. There seems to be a mutual respect between Barcelona and United fans would you agree?
Maria: I have seen that over a couple of blogs, but then I cannot say the same of fans giving opinions on Internet forums. They seem to believe they are far superior than us, I do not know if that is a general opinion among United fans or if they truly respect us…
Hady: I agree. I think Barca fans have respect towards United for their history and their achievements. And although there is rivalry amongst our teams, it is not a bitter one.