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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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Ash cloud forces Barca change

The Barcelona team will travel to London on Tuesday evening due to fears of volcanic ash from Iceland drifting towards England ahead of Saturday's Champions League final.

• Messi expects tough United test
• Blog: Abidal's return a huge boost

A year after Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull left 10 million travellers stranded worldwide with its ash cloud disrupting European air travel, another called Grimsvotn is threatening to do the same. Barcelona's travel plans last season were upset by the natural disaster and they were forced to undertake a two-day bus trip to Milan to face Inter in their semi-final match - a game they lost 3-1.

The Spanish champions were due to head to England on Thursday for this weekend's Wembley showpiece against Manchester United, but have opted to arrive two days ahead of schedule.

A Barca statement read: ''To avoid possible disruption due to ash from the volcano Grimsvotn, the Barca first team will travel to London today at 2200hrs.''

Manager Pep Guardiola hopes the situation does not mean more travel woe for the Spanish fans as they head to Wembley.

"We hope the volcano stays asleep for a few more days and allows our fans to get there," Guardiola said. "This is beyond our control and it would be very bad luck if half the stadium was empty for the final. You can go by boat. With England it's that, a plane or that tunnel between France and there. I imagine the fans will be worried, just like us. Lots and lots of people - 10,000 or 12,000 people - will travel by plane on the same day and might not be able to change those plans. Let's see what happens. UEFA will not postpone the game: the final will be played on Saturday. We play football for [the sake of] the fans and I hope [they can be there]."

Guardiola also spoke about Saturday's opponents, maintaining they were 'one of the best teams in the world' and dismissing claims that they lacked 'fantasy'.

"Yesterday and today we watched the final from two years ago and Manchester United were much, much better than us in the first half," he said. "In the second half, we had more control but it was hard. They played better than us. They are competitive, a strong team, they could put out four or five line-ups and they would all be competitive. They are one of the best teams in the world - not just now but over the last five, 10 or 15 years.

"When you see Berbatov, Rooney, Chicharito, Nani, Scholes, Giggs, Valencia, I don't think you can say [that they lack fantasy]." Asked what most scares him about United, Guardiola replied: "Everything, absolutely everything."

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