Giggs ready to write next chapter in United's history
With 12 Premier League and two UEFA Champions League winners' medals to his name, Ryan Giggs knows what it takes to succeed at the top. The evergreen midfielder helped Manchester United FC lift their second European Champion Clubs' Cup in 1999 and scored United's final spot kick in their shoot-out victory over Chelsea FC nine years later.
The following season was not such a happy memory for the 37-year-old Welshman as United came up short against an FC Barcelona side who dominated the final in Rome. Yet while Giggs respects the ability of the Spanish Liga champions, he feels United have heeded the lessons of that 2-0 reverse at the Stadio Olimpico.
"Barcelona have that experience and confidence from winning the trophy," he told UEFA.com. "A lot of their players went on to win the World Cup so they're an experienced world-class team. But we've learned from that final and got better as a team. The sides aren't too dissimilar to a couple of years ago – they are both very good teams, the best in their country."
It will be a difficult balancing act trying to stop the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta, while attempting to impose their own game on Josep Guardiola's men. However, Giggs insists United will not alter their commitment to attacking football. "You have to realise they are a talented team and you try to stop them and their key players," he explained. "Then you have to try to stamp your authority on the game and play the way you do. "Manchester United are all about attacking football, about scoring more goals than the other team, and that will never change"."
If Barcelona were strong in 2009 they have arguably got even better in the last two campaigns, adding the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup that same year and lifting the Liga title in each of the last two seasons. Giggs, though, cautions against describing them as the best ever. "You can never say that. Clubs are determined by success, by doing it time and again. On their day they are as good as anyone. But so are we. We know we're up against a good team, but we are ready to try and win the Champions League."
The venue will be an added boon for Giggs, who has made numerous trips to Wembley in his 21 terms with United. For the one-time flying winger, the rebuilt arena has lost none of its lustre. "You could feel the history at the old Wembley," he said. "Obviously it's different now but it's Wembley, probably the most famous stadium in the world. It's the home of football and it will be a great place, hopefully, to win the Champions League."
When Giggs arrived at Old Trafford, United's only success in Europe's elite competition had come at the north London ground in 1968. Now a fourth European crown beckons along with a proud legacy. "It's a special event because the first time we won it, was at Wembley. You have just got to go through the teams to see the great players and the legends, like Sir Bobby Charlton, who is still at the club.
"It's what sets this club apart – the history and the great players that have played here, the manner we play football. I believe this is the greatest football club in the world." Hopefully we can build on that history and legacy so in 30, 40 years' time they are talking about this team, like they talk about the one from '68 as a great team"."