The Gunners saw goalkeeper Jens Lehmann dismissed inside the opening 20 minutes but still led at half-time thanks to Sol Campbell’s glancing header.
Goals in the final quarter of an hour from man-of-the-match Samuel Eto’o and right-back Juliano Belletti secured only a second European Cup success for the Blaugrana – a victory that Ronaldinho insists was never in doubt for him and his team-mates.
Speaking exclusively in the March 2017 issue of FourFourTwo – having invited us round to his Rio de Janeiro apartment – he says: “We never doubted we would win. Even when we were losing, we knew they were one man down and that it would cost them. We just figured that we didn’t need to rush, we just had to play our football. It could have been more than 2-1 – we kept it at that score so that Belletti could say he scored the decider! That was his only goal for Barcelona.”
Victory in Paris sealed a league and cup double for the Camp Nou club, who won 15 and lost just six of their 38 La Liga games to finish 12 points above Real Madrid.
“We just couldn’t stop winning that season, it was addictive,” says Ronaldinho. “Each year after I arrived, we brought new good players. As Barcelona got stronger financially, the team flowed better. Everyone was in a great moment at the same time, it was just so easy.
“Deco only gave me good passes, Samuel Eto’o knew what he had to do every time. No one ever wanted difficult solutions. In that campaign we were driven. We thought we could beat anyone.”
Read the full interview with Ronaldinho in the March 2017 issue of FourFourTwo magazine. A South American special, we also chat to Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta about learning English while watching Coronation Street, learn that West Bromwich Albion powerhouse Salomon Rondon doesn’t actually like heading, reminisce with former Real Madrid forward Robinho and meet up with Bayern Munich enforcer Arturo Vidal. Plus, we find out why Oscar swapped Chelsea for China, look back on the early days of Diego Maradona’s career at Argentinos Juniors, hear some remarkable tales from football’s own Forrest Gump, aka Nelson Vivas, and find out how Chapecoense go about healing a club and local community following November’s plane tragedy in Colombia. Order it now, and then subscribe here!
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