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Guardiola backs Messi to deliver

Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola
Lionel Messi has been instrumental in Barcelona's success this season

Uefa Champions League final: Barcelona v Manchester United
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome Date: Weds, 27 May Kick-off: 1945 BST Coverage: Live on ITV1 and Sky Sports 1, BBC Radio Five Live, BBC Radio Manchester; BBC Sport website.

Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola has backed star forward Lionel Messi to deliver on the biggest stage and help his side beat Manchester United.

The Spanish side take on United in the Champions League final on Wednesday at Rome's Stadio Olimpico with Barcelona looking to record a historic treble.

"We are going to see a great Messi, he is in good form and the team will help him to deliver," said Guardiola.

"If we play in the way we can play, then Messi will have a good game."

Tim Vickery

Some consider Messi, 21, to be the best player in the world on form and he comes up against Cristiano Ronaldo, who beat the Argentine to the title for Fifa World Player of the Year for 2008.

Their match-up is an intriguing battle and could decide the destination of the next winner of the Fifa award.

Guardiola meanwhile says his side will play without caution against Manchester United and has told his side not to come off the pitch after Wednesday's final with any regrets.

"In finals there's always an element of all or nothing," said Guardiola.

"You might be afraid to play but this is something you have to leave in the dressing room and just go and play."

Barca could become the first Spanish side in history to win the treble if they beat Manchester United on Wednesday.

The Catalan club's title triumph this season was their first in three years and is their first domestic double for 11 seasons.

Messi will shine on big stage - Guardiola

Their Copa del Rey victory earlier this month was the first time they had won the cup since 1998 and was their first piece of silverware in two seasons.

Guardiola, in his first season in charge, has returned the glory days to Barcelona and has vindicated their decision to part company with long-standing coach Frank Rijkaard at the end of last season.

Free-flowing, attacking football has been the style that has reaped rewards this season and Guardiola says they will not change the way they play on Wednesday.

"We have to show what we have done throughout the season," he said.

"We're a tremendous team and we have to apply ourselves 100%.

"I don't want us to come off the pitch on Wednesday thinking we could have done things differently. We're going to play football and try to control the game.


"In order to do that, we will try to be Barca.

"I want my players to play beautiful and I want them to be daring and to show to the world why we have been so successful and lift the cup."

Guardiola, 38, sees United as 'the best team in the world' and recognises the challenge awaiting his side.

"We know we face the best team in the world and we want to beat the best team in the world," said Guardiola.

"For us it is an honour to play this final and it's a great pleasure to play against Manchester United."

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see also
How Man Utd mastered Europe
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Ferguson seeks place in history
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Barcelona v Man Utd
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Who has won the European Cup?
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Man Utd defence is key - Lineker
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The men who make Barca beautiful
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Road to Rome photos
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Kahn's Champions League nightmare
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Barca's Toure ready for 'decider'
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Rome puts alcohol limits on final
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Ferguson hungry for more success
22 May 09 |  Man Utd
O'Shea eager to secure Euro glory
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Man Utd fans given Rome warning
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Ronaldo named Fifa player of 2008
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Chelsea 1-1 Barcelona (agg 1-1)
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Arsenal 1-3 Man Utd (agg 1-4)
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Man Utd make victory parade plans
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Ferdinand backs Vidic for award
25 Mar 09 |  Man Utd
Man Utd earn dramatic Euro glory
22 May 08 |  Europe

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