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Barcelona have won the Champions League at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, beating last year's winners Manchester United by two goals...

Barcelona 2-0 Manchester United

Players from both sides won their fitness battles to make the starting line-ups: Andres Iniesta and Thierry Henry for Barcelona, and Rio Ferdinand for Manchester United.

Otherwise, Sylvinho played in defence for the Catalan giants, with Sergi Busquets also starting. United made one change from the semi-finals: Ryan Giggs in for the suspended Darren Fletcher, with Park Ji-Sung again involved.

Barcelona 2-0 Manchester United

Players from both sides won their fitness battles to make the starting line-ups: Andres Iniesta and Thierry Henry for Barcelona, and Rio Ferdinand for Manchester United.

Otherwise, Sylvinho played in defence for the Catalan giants, with Sergi Busquets also starting. United made one change from the semi-finals: Ryan Giggs in for the suspended Darren Fletcher, with Park Ji-Sung again involved.

First Half

Manchester United, playing in white, made a positive start, with Anderson winning a free kick from Toure Yaya. Cristiano Ronaldo's ensuing delivery swerved low into the body of Victor Valdes and bounced clear, and the onrushing Park might have finished were it not for a strong block by Gerard Pique.

After six minutes, Ronaldo picked up the ball in space, drove forward and let fly from 40-yards, hitting wide of Valdes' left-hand post. Less than two minutes later, in space on the left of the area, the Portuguese powerhouse was able to pluck the ball out of the air with his chest and slash a shot wide of the far post.

For all that, Barcelona opened the scoring before ten minutes were on the clock. Iniesta pulled the strings as the Blaugrana probed United for the first time, releasing a killer pass. Samuel Eto'o then evaded Nemanja Vidic with ease and poked under the body of Edwin van der Sar, before wheeling away to celebrate emotionally.

Still, the Barca rearguard continued to look a little nervy, and Ronaldo was able to test it again after being released by Ryan Giggs. However, Pique body-checked him 25-yards from goal and was shown the game's first first yellow card.

Lionel Messi had his first crack at the other end, after 19 minutes, but his swerving drive was just high and wide.

At the other end, it was clear that Ballon d'Or holder Ronaldo was trying to do it all himself in the final third. He squirmed away from Toure Yaya, but his shot trundled wide of the same post again.

From then on, the pattern of play many had expected from the start began to manifest itself: Barcelona keeping possession in spells and United working very hard to quash their many threats, whilst struggling to make headway.

Chances were limited. Xavi went close with a free kick attempt, but generally the United defence were doing just enough to repel the waves of pressure.

With the interval approaching, Messi did finally get his head down and pierce the opposition back-line, with Van der Sar spilling his eventual low cross.

Second Half

Sir Alex Ferguson had clearly noticed that Anderson had looked lost at times, not least in the build-up to the goal, thus he was hooked for Carlos Tevez.

The Red Devils started with energy, but the cooler heads of Barcelona fashioned an early opportunity. Iniesta picked out runner Henry from deep and, after cutting in from the left, the Frenchman's placed effort was blocked by Van der Sar.

Their hunger to win the 50-50 balls was evident, too, and soon Eto'o was clipping a ball to Messi at the far post. The Argentine was close to connecting, then appealed in vain for a penalty after feeling the presence of John O'Shea.

The pressure continued. Iniesta drove into the heart of United's defence and won a free kick just outside the area. Xavi stepped up to curl the free-kick round the wall, smacking the right-hand post.

United did stabilise eventually, and had a half-chance of their own. Wayne Rooney crossed from the right and Toure Yaya got just enough on the ball to take it away from Ronaldo and Tevez.

On the hour mark, Michael Carrick looked to play in Rooney again, but he overcooked his pass, much to the frustration of the burly forward.

Dimitar Berbatov came on for Park, and for a short spell United looked more purposeful. Just as they were building a head of steam, though, Barca hit them with a sucker punch.

Carles Puyol made a key interception on the half-way line, and back-pedalling United were never able to clear. Xavi then hung up a delicious cross for Messi, who headed back across goal from the left, leaving the 'keeper flailing as the ball nestled in the net.

Manchester United almost replied immediately. Tevez played across the face of goal from the right, only for Giggs to scuff an effort and Ronaldo to be blocked out by Valdes at the back post.

On-song Puyol rose to head powerfully into the arms of the 'keeper shortly after, but then United's frustration surfaced. Ronaldo's challenge on the aforementioned Barca captain and substitute Paul Scholes' late slide on Busquets were both met with yellow cards.

In the last ten minutes there were more near misses for the Spanish side; Iniesta and Puyol forced Van der Sar to think quickly in order to make two good stops.

Thus it finished, and Barcelona are the Champions League winners 2008-09.

Greg Ptolomey, Goal.com

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Pep is certainly pleased to have won Europe's top club prize and has made an unexpected dedication to Calcio...

Barcelona defeated Manchester United 2-0 in the Champions League final in Rome on Wednesday. After the match, Blaugrana boss Pep Guardiola spoke about his delight at winning the trophy.

One of the first things he mentioned was the host city and a specific issue affecting Italian football at the moment; the retirement of defender Paolo Maldini.

"I dedicate this to Italian football and Paolo Maldini, who need not worry because he has the admiration of all of Europe," the victorious boss told RAI Sport.

The Milan captain was insulted by some Rossoneri fans during his final match at San Siro this past weekend, something that reportedly angered the former Italian international, who is on the verge of ending his 24 year career.

Guardiola knows Maldini from his playing days in Italy, where he had stints with both Brescia and Roma in the early part of the decade.

"I'm experiencing a great joy, it's been a pleasure to win it in Roma, a hug to all Italians," he added.

Meanwhile, in his extended post-match reaction to uefa.com, he elaborated, "I'm leaving straight away tomorrow. I can't do anything else to top this.

"We're aware that we've done something magnificent. I'd like to congratulate the whole club and the fans. We're not the best team in Barca history but we've played the best season.

"We've won three titles but it's also about how we've won them. As a player, it was great to win this trophy for the first time. Now, we have won three which isn't as many as other clubs but we're getting closer to a select group of mythical teams," he beamed.

Finally, he gave a brief assessment of how his Catalan superstars managed to overcome the Red Devils.

"We scored with our first chance and after that, we just tried to move the ball inside," he divulged.

"We noticed that in the semi-final last year, Messi had problems with [Patrice] Evra, so we decided to move Leo from out wide to have one more player in midfield.

"He's the best right now and he has written his name on the Ballon d'Or. Messi has real talent and will never hide. When the going gets tough, he really starts moving," he concluded.

Adam Scime, Goal.com

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The news is now official: Diego Ribas da Cunha is a Juventus player. The talented Brazilian signed a five year contract which will see him at Juventus until the 30th of June 2014.

The midfielder who was in Turin yesterday for the medical tests and the signing of the contract returned to Germany where on Saturday the 30th of May he will be playing for Werder Bremen in the final of the German Cup against Bayer Leverkusen. Before returning to Bremen he stated: «I am very enthusiastic and proud of signing for Juventus, such a prestigious club which I dreamt of since I was a child. After the experience in Portugal and the Bundesliga I will be able to test myself in a championship of very high level and I am sure that with Juventus I will be able to reach great goals. Now, however, I want to concentrate on Saturday’s final: I really want to leave the supporters of Werder in the best of manners because it is also thanks to them that I improved in the last years up to the extent of deserving this new opportunity».

Juventus will pay Werder Bremen €24.5 million divided into three installments in bank guarantees: €14 million on the 1st of July 2009, €5.5 million on the 1st of July 2010, €5 million on the 1st of July 2011. The price can rise by a further €2.5 million in case of the fulfillment of established sports objectives in the next five years.

«Due to his technical characteristics – declared Juventus general manager Jean-Claude Blanc – Diego is a fundamental player for the strengthening of the squad. We always said that our objective is to bring together youngsters and champions and Diego falls into both categories: notwithstanding he is only 24 years old, he is a player of great experience with more then 7 years of professional football at high levels. I am sure that his contribution will be important to continue helping the improvement of Juventus and to make a further step ahead in view of the next objectives».

«By depositing this contract – added sports director Alessio Secco – we have brought to a definite conclusion an agreement on which we have been working for months. Diego is a unique player and to bring him to Juventus we had to compete with some of the major European teams. His addition to the squad increases the team’s potential and allows the experimentation of new formations. His performances in the last seasons and his personality which distinguished him in German and in Europe are a confirmation of his qualities. He will be another weapon with which to face the next Champions League, for which we qualified mathematically last Sunday».

Diego Ribas da Cunha was born in Ribeirão Preto, On the 28th of February 1985.

The attacking midfielder with a compact and fast physique has excellent technique and vision of play. He is a complete player who is good at dribbling, sudden changes of pace and creating numerical superiority. He is very precise with long balls, has a powerful shot and is particularly skilled at taking free-kicks, capabilities which make him a great finisher.

After having made his debut with Santos in 2002 at 16 years of age he was transferred to Porto after two years during which he won 2 championships. At Porto he spent 2 seasons winning the Intercontinental Cup, a championship and a Portuguese Supercup before being transferred to Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga. In Germany Diego’s career exploded winning a League Cup and being named best player of the championship in 2007.

In the meantime he has been winning himself more and more space in the Brazilian national team with which side he won two Coppa America (in 2004 and 2007) and a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Season 2008-09

Championship : 20 appearances – 12 goals
European Cups: 8 appearances – 6 goals
German Cup : 4 appearances – 2 goals

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Champions Inter Milan came unstuck on the road, while AC Milan slipped up at home in a five-goal thriller.

Juventus secured a morale-boosting success in their first game without Claudio Ranieri and Fiorentina maintained their grip on fourth spot.

The biggest shock of the day came at Cagliari, though, where Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan slipped to a 2-1 defeat.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic fired the Nerazzurri in front after just eight minutes, but saw that advantage wiped out by Andrea Cossu 11 minutes before the interval.

Robert Acquafresca that sealed a first win in six outings for Cagliari when he grabbed the winner after 71 minutes.

AC Milan slip to third in the Serie A standings after a 3-2 defeat at home to Roma.

John Arne Riise's 36th minute opener looked for a long time as though it would prove to be the decisive strike in the contest.

However, a frantic last 15 minutes saw Massimo Ambrosini level matters, Jeremy Menez restore Roma's lead (80) and Ambrosini restore parity once again (81).

Roma talisman Francesco Totti then put the seal on a topsy-turvy encounter when he lashed home a fabulous free-kick five minutes from the end.

With tempers running high, Ambrosini then spoiled his afternoon when he was given his marching orders on 88 minutes.

Juventus secured a first win in eight games after they prevailed 3-0 at Siena, moving them up to second.

An Alessandro del Piero penalty on 33 minutes, a further effort from Ruben Olivera (48) and a second from Del Piero (89) handed caretaker boss Ciro Ferrara the perfect start to life in the Juve hot seat.

Udinese had claimed six consecutive victories heading into their game at Sampdoria, but could not build on that success as they were held 2-2.

Gaetano D'Agostino had Pasquale Marino's side in front from the penalty spot on 13 minutes, but a Mauricio Isla own goal (32) and a further spot kick from Antonio Cassano (44) turned the tie on its head.

Felipe did snatch an equaliser on the hour-mark, but it mattered little to two teams destined to finish the season in the midst of mid-table.

Catania bounced back from the indignity of suffering four straight defeats with a dramatic 3-1 win over Napoli.

The men from Naples went ahead through Mariano Bogliacino on 27 minutes, but failed to hold onto that lead.

Takayuki Morimoto pulled the scores level four minutes before the interval, before late efforts from Giuseppe Mascara (pen 88) and Vito Falconieri (90) brought welcome relief to the Angelo Massimino Stadium.

Fiorentina found life difficult on the road at Lecce, but sent their opponents heading towards Serie B after claiming a 1-1 draw.

Simone Tiribocchi (50) appeared to have given hope to the hosts' fading survival dreams, but it was not to be.

Felipe Melo was dismissed for Viola with two minutes left on the clock, appearing to end their quest to take a point, but Martin Jorgensen struck in injury-time to break Lecce hearts.

Genoa moved to within two points of the UEFA Champions League places with a 3-2 win at Torino.

Diego Milito fired them in front from the spot on 33 minutes, but Ivan Franceschini equalised five minutes before half time.

Ruben Olivera then restored the visitors' advantage on 48 minutes, only to see Rolando Bianchi level matters once again two minutes later.

A thrilling finale to the contest then saw Milito grab his second of the game, to take the points, while Ignazio Abate saw red for Torino in stoppage time.

Two inconsistent sides, in Atalanta and Palermo, could not be separated as they played out a 2-2 draw.

The away side took the lead, through Davide Succi (32), only to then fall behind to a brace from Gianvito Plasmati (50 & 67).

Palermo displayed admirable resilience, though, and took a share of the spoils thanks to Fabrizio Miccoli (75).

The final game on a busy afternoon of action in Italy saw Chievo and Bologna play out a forgettable goalless draw. skysports.com

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It is not customary for Juventus to dismiss a coach before the end of the season, however the situation and the victory drought of the last two months forced the club to take a drastic decision in order to try and move the team in the last two and most important matches. This is the gist of the press conference held on Monday evening at the Juventus Media Center in Vinovo which saw the participation of Juventus general manager Jean-Claude Blanc and the new coach Ciro Ferrara.

Putting the past behind and on with the next:
Mr. Blanc began by thanking Claudio Ranieri: «I would like to thank Mr. Ranieri and his staff for what they did in these two years. However, seeing the results lately especially the one achieved yesterday when we had the possibility of drawing close to Milan and now find ourselves just one point ahead of Fiorentina we were forced to take decision. We now hope to finish the season at least in third place and therefore decided to entrust this mission to Ciro Ferrara. We know it will not be an easy task. Ciro accepted immediately when we called him last night and I thank him for his disposition.»

Ferrara and the future:
Asked whether Ciro Ferrara will be the coach even during the next season Mr. Blanc answered: « Most of all Ferrara will be coach for these two days which leave a heavy mark on next season. Direct qualification to the Champions League would leave us with more time to prepare for next season and therefore to prepare better. Ciro’s mission is at least for these two matches. Then we will see and evaluate all that happened this season as we do each year and take the decision. We chose to entrust the role to a Juventus supporter, who has Juve in his blood and who has a successful past with the club. At the end of the day its the players who go down on the field but we had to take a decision and we are sure that this decision will drive the message home to the players that the next two matches are very important and the two matches must be played with the maximum effort. As from tomorrow Ferrara and his staff will be leading the team. The fact that to us the future are these two upcoming matches does not mean that we do not look ahead but that we want to concentrate totally on these two matches. We obviously are looking ahead but at the moment we are concentrating so as to give Ciro and his staff the best conditions to work in so as to overcome this difficult mission. Obviously we will not judge Ciro’s qualities on these two matches. We know his worth and his past and he will not be risking his future in these two matches. A person who has the moral strength to accept such a difficult mission immediately has the right personality to be considered even in the future. Ciro Ferrara will definitely be considered for next year at the end of the season but we must consider everything and see what our technical expectations are».

An uncustomary decision:
Juventus are not known to dismiss a coach before the end of the season and the decision even though in the air recently came with somewhat of a surprise: «We take decisions after considering the facts and we came to this decision after discussing things. By appointing Ciro Ferrra we wanted to give the players the right charge. Now the rest is up to them to start afresh with Ferrara and his staff. He is the right man at the right moment. It is true that in the last 3 years Juventus have been in a different situation from that in the past and therefore things have to be considered in that perspective. I know it is not in Juve’s style to sack a coach before the end of the season but I also know that Juve’s style is to end each season well and play in the Champions League without preliminaries and therefore we took this decision which does not fit exactly in the style of Juventus because we want to end the season well. Qualification to the Champions League without preliminaries allows the team to prepare better for the next season and therefore we had to be efficient and concrete. We had to try and change the situation which saw us not winning a single match in the last two months and therefore 55 days later we had to take this decision. The table changed things. It is clear that we must do different things then what we saw yesterday including on the field and this must come from the coach who as from today is Ciro Ferrara».

The transfer market:
Asked how this decision will effect the transfer market, Mr. Blanc answered: «The Juventus transfer marker will see the closure of the negotiations we were making with Ranieri as coach. Alessio Secco worked hard on these and we will see that they are concluded. The first is Driego who we hope to sign in the next few days. Then there is Cannavaro who I know certain supporters do not want back but when we consider all the pluses and minuses of the player we see many more pluses and we hope the signature will come very soon. Apart from these two operations we will have to study the technical situation and discuss with the coach for next season well before beginning or going on with other deals even though we have our ideas already» Juventus.com.

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The name Ciro Ferrara up to yesterday was associated with a great career as a defender and more recently as the director of the Juventus youth sector. As from today however, Ciro, will see himself in the shoes of the coach of the team he loves so much.

Ferrara’s career seems to have Juventus as part of his destiny. In fact playing for Napoli (the only other jersey worn by the defender) he made his debut in the Serie A on the 5th of May 1985 during a match against no less then the bianconeri. As from that day he never looked back and after being part of the triumphant times of Maradona’s Napoli he was transferred to Juventus in 1994 when he was to leave a great mark and win himself many satisfactions. In fact as a Juventus player “Ciro d’Italia” won 5 Italian Championships (in addition to the two won with Napoli), a Champions League, an Intercontinetal Cup, A European Supercup, a Coppa Italia, 4 Italian Super Cups (in addition to the one won with Napoli) and an Intertoto Cup. He also won a UEFA Cup with Napoli. Ciro Ferrara was also for many years an automatic choice for the Italian national team.

After retiring in 2005 he took on a managerial role at Juventus and is currently the director of the Juventus youth nursery with the most recent of successes being the Primavera’s triumph in the Viareggio Cup. He is also the deputy-coach of the Italian national team.

To summarize, Ciro Ferrara has been successful for many years, first as player and then as director and now he is called to straighten things out in this difficult moment as the new Juventus coach. Juventus.com

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Rome - Juventus president Giovanni Cobolli Gigli has expressed optimism about the transfer of Brazilian midfielder Diego from German side Werder Bremen.

"Now we hope to continue (the negotiations) and put the stamps on legal papers by early June," the ANSA news agency Thursday quoted Cobolli Gigli as saying.

"Stamps are a formality. The news from the footballer and other clubs confirm the validity of the negotiations done by (Juve director general Jean-Claude) Blanc and
(sporting director Alessio) Secco."

Bayern Munich, who had also set their sights on the 24-year-old international, said they are no longer after Diego.

"Diego is certainly a great champion," Cobolli Gigli said. "He is a young player with great class and his arrival will imply a change in (Juve's) game tactics.

"(Coach Claudio) Ranieri has considered this and he is ready to tackle what is more than a possibility. It's virtually a certainty.

"I saw him play and I think he is a player who can add something to Juve, effectively siding with our great champions."

The UEFA Cup and German cup finalists Bremen last week confirmed talks with Juve, who will likely have to pay around 25 million euros (34 million dollars) for the playmaker.

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