Within touching distance of lifting the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2009, Estudiantes were left stunned when Barcelona’s Pedro struck in the 89th minute to cancel out Mauro Boselli’s first-half opener. And after that hammer blow, up popped Lionel Messi with just ten minutes of extra time remaining to clinch the trophy for Josep Guardiola’s team. The La Plata outfit's captain, Juan Sebastian Veron, shared his emotions with FIFA.com.
FIFA.com: Juan, how do you feel after that game?
Juan Sebastian Veron: We were so close it hurts, but unfortunately football’s like that: sometimes it gives and other times it takes away. But our minds should be at ease because we gave our very best against opponents of the calibre of Barcelona. Over and above the pain of losing and the sadness we’re feeling, we’d like to congratulate Barcelona on their victory.
We were so close it hurts. But our minds should be at ease because we gave our very best against opponents of the calibre of Barcelona.
What was your verdict on Estudiantes’s performance?
Very good. I’ll repeat what I’ve just said: the sheer strength of the opponents we were up against must be taken into account. For many stretches of the game you couldn’t tell which side had all the star names. At no point did they ever feel they had the game under control. And what’s more, I dare say that if we’d been a touch more clinical we could even have scored another goal.
Do you have any regrets?
No. We set our stall out intelligently, we all ran our socks off and we gave it everything. They couldn’t find a way past us and then, right at the end, they levelled via an odd passage of play, with a high ball into the box. Perhaps our only regret is that the game didn’t finish earlier!
Where did Estudiantes fall short?
By a minute, that’s all. To be honest, we gave everything we had. We came into this tournament with the bare bones, it’s been a long year with a small squad. And though I’m aware that Barcelona have also played a lot of games, the respective substitutions the teams made during the final underlines the point I’m trying to make.
Are you already thinking about coming back next year?
It’s hard to think about that at the moment. What happened today has happened, and we only just missed out. I think that with time, the desire (to return) will start building, but it’s a very long road. I’m not saying that we’ll never be in a situation like this again, but it’s very difficult to get another opportunity like the one we had today.
What are your final thoughts?
I’m very proud to be part of this squad and this club, and I think the other lads should be too. Barcelona have put some great teams to the sword but we had them on the ropes in the final of a Club World Cup. I think that sums up what we did at this tournament.