Man United vs Barcelona: Rio Ferdinand's analysis of 2011 Champions League final

Barcelona defeated Manchester United 3-1 in the 2011 Champions League final

The 2011 Champions League final was a rather one-sided affair.

Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona defeated Manchester United 3-1 at Wembley thanks to goals from Pedro Rodriguez, Lionel Messi and David Villa.

The scoreline seriously flattered the Red Devils, who somehow managed to equalise in the first half through Wayne Rooney.

Aside from that moment, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were completely dominated by Barcelona. The Blaugrana’s midfield and forward line were simply too good, leaving United players begging for mercy.

Rio Ferdinand was one of those tasked with trying to thwart Barcelona’s array of forward-thinking superstars that evening.

Like the rest of his teammates, the Englishman failed to get anywhere near Messi and his pals, but Ferdinand did a stellar job when he was asked to re-analyse the 2011 Champions League final on BT Sport in 2019.

Messi celebrates

Ferdinand even stated that he openly disagreed with Ferguson’s bold tactics for the game.

“I didn’t agree. I voiced my opinion, but at the time you’re confident in a man like Alex Ferguson,” the United legend said.

“I said pressing them was going to be difficult, it’s hard. They did us in Rome. In that midfield in Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets, they probably had three of the top six players in the world, Iniesta too… 

“Me and Nemanja Vidic used to speak a lot about stuff like that, I thought we were going to get outnumbered in midfield.

Ferdinand & Messi

“We were used to playing a 4-3-3 or a 4-5-1, where we would soak up some pressure and hit teams on the break.

“I thought our forward players could do that to this Barcelona team, but we never gave ourselves the opportunity.” 

You can watch Ferdinand’s incredible analysis in full below, a video which highlights just how special Guardiola’s Barcelona side was.


Fascinating stuff from one of the very best pundits around at the moment.

Trying to stop Messi, Villa, Pedro, Xavi and Iniesta sounds like a right laugh, doesn’t it? 

Barcelona in 2011 were just a different animal, a team that pretty much every other great side in history would have struggled to lay a glove on.

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