No extra motivation was required for Manchester United ahead of the 2008 Champions League final.
United’s players were well aware of the significance of the occasion when they squared off against Premier League rivals Chelsea in Moscow on May 21, 2008.
Intensity was at an all-time high as kick-off grew closer and according to Owen Hargreaves, a scrap almost broke out in the Red Devils squad on the eve of the match at the Luzhniki Stadium.
Hargreaves played all 120 minutes for United and scored from the spot in the drama-filled penalty shootout but recalling the last training session before the final, the ex-midfielder explained how manager Alex Ferguson didn’t feel the need to deliver an impassioned team talk because he could see the fire was in his players’ eyes after a near-fight a day earlier.
Hargreaves told beIN SPORTS: “He knew the boys were ready. I remember we did a training game in the stadium in Moscow the day before and we almost had a fight amongst the two teams because the training game was so intense.
“One team lost and everybody was moaning at each other and Sir Alex had to come in and break it up. That’s how it was. Everybody was so competitive about winning.
“Even in a training game, you’d think people didn’t want to get injured but that wasn’t the case. Everybody was just on it. Everybody was so excited for that game.”
Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring for Ferguson’s side before Frank Lampard scored an equaliser on the stroke of half-time.
With nothing to separate the teams after extra time, a penalty shootout was required and it will be best remembered for John Terry’s infamous slip from the spot.
Hargreaves added: “We knew the Chelsea boys so well, they were obviously playing in the Premier League but with England as well – John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole – and I knew Michael Ballack from my Bayern days.
“Then we were meeting up about three days later for a game at Wembley against the USA.
“It’s hard when you get to the Champions League final and it goes down to details like penalties. Somebody has to lose, John Terry slipped, Nicolas Anelka missed, all of a sudden they lose and we win.
“Obviously we were delighted with it and just kept our heads down when we got together with the national team a few days later and tried not to look too happy.”