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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May, 26, 2009

Pep: We must play ''beautiful'' to beat United

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola believes the only way his side can beat ''the best team in the world'' in the Champions League final is to ''play beautiful''.

The Spanish champions go into the clash with holders Manchester United at Rome's Stadio Olimpico looking to clinch their third European title.

''The fans know that it will not be easy,'' said Guardiola. ''We know we face the best team in the world and we want to beat the best team in the world. In order to do that, we will try to be Barca.

''I want my players to play beautiful and I want them to be daring and to show to the world why we have been so successful and lift the cup.

''That is my only worry, I don't want to have any regrets after the game that we didn't do this or that on the pitch, in other words we didn't show the play that we have been able to do so far.''

What Guardiola has done so far has been most impressive. A member of the first Barcelona team to win the European Cup with a 1-0 victory over Sampdoria 17 years ago at Wembley, Guardiola has led the Catalan outfit to a Primera Liga and Copa del Rey double in his first season at the helm.

''I could never have imagined anything like this at the beginning of the season,'' said the 38-year-old. ''I just wanted to do a good job, but in my first year to win the League, the cup and to be here, one step away from being European champions, is great. We cannot deny that it has been a great season.

''I have been fortunate to have a great team and we've been able to do well. But we can still do better.''

Guardiola knows Manchester United have few weaknesses.

Sir Alex Ferguson's team go into the clash on a record 25-match unbeaten run in the competition. United have a superb defensive record in this season's competition with just six goals conceded, but Guardiola is respectful of the whole team.

''I think Manchester United have lots of virtues,'' he said. ''If we are not strong in defence they will attack and it is a team that attacks well.

''If it has to defend, it defends with humility and if it has to counter-attack, they are deadly. We have tried to correct some things that we do badly and highlight the positive things we do.''

Barca will rely on the inspiration of Spanish internationals Xavi and Andres Iniesta in midfield, while they hope Lionel Messi can maintain his form in front of goal. Messi is the competition's top scorer with eight goals this season.

''We are going to see a great Messi,'' said Guardiola. ''He is in good form and the team will help him to deliver. If we play in the way we can play, then Messi will have a good game.''

Much of the focus has been on Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo but Guardiola feels any player could decide the game.

Barcelona last won the Champions League three years ago when beating Arsenal in the final in Paris with defender Julian Belletti scoring the winner.

''I don't know if the game will be decided by star players,'' Guardiola said. ''Of course, because they are stars they have more responsibility. Both (Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo) are very good players.''

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