Champions League Final 2006 Arsenal v Barcelona

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European Champion’s League Final 2006
Arsenal 1-2 Barcelona, Stade de France

Arsene Wenger Arsenal's manager Copyright Gordon Flood and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence 2
Arsene Wenger

Best teams in the world

The two best/most beautiful footballing teams in the world met to contest the Champion’s League final in 2006.

Both played slick passing, attacking football which was great to watch, and it was the two teams most neutrals wanted to see in the final.

Arsenal’s game suited to Europe

Arsenal played the most attractive football in England, although had only finished fourth in their domestic league, some 24 points behind champions Chelsea.

Champions League final 2006
Jens Lehmann sent off
Arsenal go in front
Barcelona break Arsenal down
More classic matches

It was thought that Arsenal’s pretty, passing football was more suited to the European game, where the game is played at a slower pace and possession of the ball is something teams don’t give up lightly. As opposed to the blood and thunder of the Premier League, where teams press the ball always, no matter what part of the pitch they are in.

Arsene Wenger was the Gunners manager, and his philosophy was playing the ball on the ground, with quick one touch passing in the opponents half.

This was a view which was constantly sneered at and blamed for bad results in the Premier League by pundits in the media.

It had been, however, good enough for them to go the entire 2003/4 season unbeaten in the league. They won the title that year and earned themselves the nickname the ‘Invincibles’.

Barcelona on for league and Euro double

Barcelona had the same philosophy as Arsenal in the way that the game should be played.

Ronaldinho Copyright Reto Stauffer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence 3
Ronaldinho

They too had great passers of the ball and attacking players with such skill and pace, it was enough to scare any defence in the world.

They had won their domestic league, La Liga, comfortably finishing 12 points clear of runners up, Real Madrid.

Their manager was Dutch legend Frank Riijkaard, who had been a top player in his day, and was now proving himself to be a top manager too.

They were a team of outstanding footballers, their best player being the current World player of the Year, the Brazilian Ronaldinho.

Perfect conditions for a classic

The match was played in the Stade de France in Paris. It was a rainy night in the French capital dampening the pitch. This was no problem for either team as both favoured keeping the ball on the ground and moving it around at pace. Arsenal start on the front foot – Read more

Champions League final 2006
Jens Lehmann sent off
Arsenal go in front
Barcelona break Arsenal down
More classic matches

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