Cockiness in Rome caught me out: Patrice Evra
Manchester United's Patrice Evra admitted, as his side arrived in London last night, that he was guilty of over-confidence in the Champions League final against Barcelona two years ago and vowed that they will not repeat the mistake at Wembley tomorrow evening.
Sir Alex Ferguson's players are settling into their surroundings at Marylebone's Landmark hotel after yesterday afternoon's train journey from Stockport and will get their last run out at Fulham's Motspur Park training ground this morning.
But Evra was looking back to the 2-0 defeat to Pep Guardiola's side in Rome's Stadio Olimpico.
“I am honest and I have to say I was confident in Italy — maybe too confident. I thought we were going to win,” he said.
“Rome was a bad feeling. I had a big frustration that summer, when I was on holiday, because we didn't show enough of the Man United spirit and quality.
“We had been in the final in Moscow the season before and had won the trophy and maybe we just believed too much.
“We had respect for Barcelona then but I was so confident. It was probably too much.
“The thing I remember from two years ago was that everyone was saying we were going to beat Barcelona easily in Rome, myself as well.
“That's why I am happy that everyone is saying Barcelona are going to win [this time]. That's good.”
Though United stand at the top of Uefa club coefficient rankings, 12 points clear of second placed Barcelona, Pep Guardiola's side — who will today leave The Grove Hotel in Hertfordshire for Chelsea's Wyndham hotel — are odds on favourites to win with virtually every bookmaker, with several having them 2/1 on, while United are 7/4 with many.
So, for once, United will not be favourites and will almost certainly spend a lot of time chasing the ball, but Evra does not care.
“Barcelona are very good at keeping the ball but football is not about keeping the ball, it is about scoring goals,” he said.
“It is an opportunity to win the Champions League.
“Maybe for some it will be the first chance, for others it will be the last.”
An intriguing statistic stands in United's favour.
They and Barcelona will become the sixth pair of teams to meet twice in a European Cup final — with the last three of those rematches having been won by the side that lost the first encounter.
The survivors of 2009 have picked over what went wrong in Rome by watching DVDs of the match in recent days, with footage of the playing “habits” of Barcelona's squad also uploaded to players iPads, according to United's Rio Ferdinand.
The 35-year-old Hungarian Viktor Kassai has been appointed to referee he match.
Evra concluded that he was so demoralised by the 2009 result that he could not even bring himself to smile on the official team picture for the next season, because “that big trophy with the big ears” was missing from a snapshot that included the Premier League, Carling Cup and Club World Cup.
“We had won those three trophies, but on every picture I wasn't smiling,” he reflected.