Lyon coach hails Barcelona as world’s best team

Lyon coach Claude Puel hailed Barcelona as “the best team in the world” Thursday following its Champions League win over Manchester United in coach Pep Guardiola’s first season.

Puel witnessed the brilliance of Guardiola’s team when Lyon was beaten 5-2 in the first knockout round of the competition back in March, having drawn 1-1 at home. So he was not surprised when Barcelona beat United 2-0 on Wednesday.

“The best team in the world has been rewarded,” Puel was quoted as saying on the Web site of sports daily L’Equipe. “It’s huge, because they have won everything this season in style and with extraordinary teamwork.”

Barcelona joined United, Ajax, Celtic and PSV Eindhoven as the only clubs to achieve the treble – the Champions League and domestic league and cup titles – ensuring the 38-year-old Guardiola a place in the club’s history.

Barcelona scored a goal in each half, with star strikers Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi each getting a goal as United chased the game in vain after making a bright start.

“Even Manchester couldn’t get hold of the ball and could only watch them play,” Puel said, adding that Barcelona’s star players understood how to put teamwork ahead of individual ambition.

Lyon has lost to the European Cup winner for the past two seasons, having been eliminated by United at the same stage last year.

“Every time we come up against the future winner,” Lyon midfielder Jeremy Toulalan said. “But that doesn’t make it any easier to take.”