Wayne Rooney has described the Barcelona team which beat Manchester United in the Champions League in 2009 and 2011 as the best team he’s ever seen.
Pep Guardiola’s side prevented Man United from winning consecutive Champions League titles in 2009 through goals from Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi.
In 2011 Rooney scored a fantastic goal to bring United level in the final at Wembley, only for the Catalans – spearheaded by the sublime Lionel Messi – to produce a performance even better than 2009 to win 3-1.
Speaking in an interview with the Times, Rooney opined that the Barcelona team managed by Guardiola was like nothing he had ever seen.
Rooney: “If we had been against any other team but Barcelona (2009 & 2011) – we don't know – but you would have fancied us to win those games. In my eyes they are the best team ever.” #mufc [Telegraph]
— United Xtra (@utdxtra) October 8, 2018
Sir Alex Ferguson used to warn players about Barcelona’s “passing carousel”, and how it can make players dizzy and prone to making mistakes. He wasn’t wrong.
Perhaps the Scot made this point not with the hope that his players would overcome Barcelona’s majestic passing but rather learn to deal with it, to simply stay in the game.
Because that was all you could really do against that team: stay in the game. Blessed with the trifecta of brilliance in Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta as the team’s heartbeat, Barcelona played at a frequency which genuinely had never been witnessed before, and hasn’t really been repeated again. Even an extremely good United team stood no chance.