Xavi hails United class
Barca midfielder full of respect for rivals ahead of showdown
Last Updated: May 27, 2011 4:01pm
Xavi: Admires Manchester United and is anticipating a difficult match
Xavi has applauded Manchester United for operating at a 'spectacular level' ahead of Saturday's UEFA Champions League final.
Barcelona go into the Wembley showpiece as favourites after a stunning campaign, while they also defeated United in the 2009 final.
However, midfielder Xavi is still full of respect for his rivals and is anticipating a difficult match.
"What Manchester United have done over the years has so much merit," he said.
"They have been playing for many years at an extraordinary level, they have won many trophies, they have been competing consistently, getting to Champions League semi-finals and finals.
"They are on a spectacular level; all the footballers are at an extraordinary level."
Xavi has been particularly impressed by the longevity of veterans Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, as well as manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
"What Ferguson has done, what Scholes and Giggs have done - to be competing like they have, year after year, has a lot of merit," he said.
The midfielder believes United possess excellence all the way through the side.
"They haven't only got talent," he said. "They work well in defence, they are compact, they have many variants in attack.
"If they score a goal they close up at the back and play on the counter - they have a lot of tactical options."
Xavi was linked with a move to United earlier in his career but insists he is happy to have stayed at Barca.
"I'm in the Champions league final for the third time with this generation and I wouldn't change it for anything," he said.
Team-mate Andres Iniesta admits he is also attracted by English football and that beating United would mean a lot.
"Football in England is special," the midfielder said. "It's a country with great players, the stadiums are nice, and the culture, the people - how they live football and the matches - mean that it's always special to beat the English."