It didn’t happen on too many occasions across his unparallelled stint at the top of European football, but there was one time that Sir Alex Ferguson had to admit his side lost to the vastly superior one.
Manchester United headed into the Champions League final in 2011, with an element of home advantage due to the game taking place at Wembley Stadium.
Across the years, both at the new stadium and old one, the legendary Red Devils boss counted success after success as his side dominated the domestic game.
But two years after defeat to Barcelona in Rome, Pep Guardiola’s men handed Sir Alex what he would describe following the game as a 3-1 “hiding”.
“They’re the best in Europe, no question about that. In my time as a manager, I would say they’re the best team we’ve faced,” he said following the sobering defeat.
“Everyone acknowledges that and I accept that. It’s not easy when you’ve been well beaten like that to think another way. No one has given us a hiding like that.
“It’s a great moment for them. They deserve it because they play the right way and enjoy their football.”
And it appears that time hasn’t dimmed his view of Guardiola’s all-conquering side, with Ferguson describing the team that included Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta as the one that has left the biggest impression on him.
After being named as the coach of the Ballon d’Or Dream Team, Ferguson was asked by France Football which team most closely resembled their all-time selection and his answer was clear.
“The one that made the biggest impression on me is the Barcelona we met at Wembley, with Manchester United , in the final of the Champions League 2011. They were unplayable.”
Organisers of the annual prize for the world’s best footballer award, France Football, cancelled this year’s event due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead they chose to name the best team in football history made up of current superstars and legends from yesteryear.
Do you agree with the final team? Have your say below.
The final XI was determined by a voting system involving journalists from 170 different countries to make up the scintillating line-up.
It included the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi, as well as footballing icons Pele and Diego Maradona.
There were some notable omissions however, with the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Johan Cruyff and Franz Beckenbauer unfortunate to miss out.
Ballon d’Or all-time XI (3-4-3): Lev Yashin, Cafu, Franz Beckenbauer, Paolo Maldini, Lothar Matthaus, Xavi, Pele, Diego Maradona, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Ronaldo Nazario
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