Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney believes the current Barcelona vintage is as strong as ever and reflected on two Champions League final defeats.
Rooney was speaking to ESPN ahead of a pre-season friendly between the clubs in the United States, and discussed the Catalans’ successful 2014-15 in comparison to the days of Pep Guardiola.
“Barcelona are a fantastic team and, after Real Madrid winning the Champions League [in 2014], they wouldn't have liked that and they've come out again and been incredible really, probably as good as they have been over the last 10 years, I believe,” Rooney said.
“It's a different way of playing – they're defending a little bit deeper and not going and closing down teams the way they did and they're hurting teams on the counter-attack.
“You can see there's a change in the way they play but, with the players they have got, obviously [Lionel] Messi, Neymar and [Luis] Suarez, they are a massive threat to anyone.”
Rooney has twice lost to Barca in the Champions League final – 2009 and 2011 – and said that while the defeats were painful, La Blaugrana were each time deserving winners.
“You're so close to winning it and to lose twice to Barcelona is hard to take really," the England skipper continued.
“I think you sometimes have to hold your hands up and say they were the better team – the best team in Europe – and it was going to be difficult for us to win the game.
“I'd say probably the game at Wembley, being there, it would have been nice to have won the Champions League there.”