Ferguson: 'Barcelona don't scare us'

Manchester United manager tells players they have no need to fear Barcelona in the Champions League final on 28 May.

    United breezed past a lacklustre Schalke 04 to book their ticket to the Wembley final [GALLO/GETTY]

    Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has said there is nothing to fear after his side lined up a European Champions League final against Spanish giants Barcelona.

    United booked their place in another final against the side that beat them in Rome two years ago, after beating German side Schalke in the semifinals.

    Ferguson said his side could not afford to fear Barcelona, despite the impeccable form of the Catalans this season.

    "I don't think we should be going there lacking in confidence,'' Ferguson said after Wednesday's win put them in the Wembley final on May 28.

    "Their form has been very good this season and we will be playing a fantastic team, but they haven't got a terror against us.

    "We cannot be frightened out of our skin. We have got to find a solution to playing against them.''

    Nevertheless Ferguson admitted that he had been anxious for United to avoid Barcelona throughout this season's Champions League and revealed he would have been happy to be playing another club in the final.

    Two years of hurt

    It has only been two short years since United lost to Barcelona in the 2009 Champions League final.

    Barcelona outplayed United 2-0 in Rome with goals from Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi, as United, after a bright start, were totally overwhelmed by the Catalan giants.

    But while a fervent admirer of the Catalan club, Ferguson insists his team will not be overawed when they meet in the final.

    "... I think at the start of the season you say 'Stay clear of Barcelona', because their form is there for everyone to see," he said.

    "We've done our job well now that our away form has been terrific. We've found a good way of playing away from home. Wembley's not an away game, it's a neutral ground. But I think we'll be quite well prepared."

    Ferguson also declined invitations to characterise the final as an opportunity for his players to avenge their defeat in Rome two years ago, when they were comprehensively outplayed by Guardiola's pass masters.

    "Revenge doesn't come into it," Ferguson said.

    "What does come into is that this is another opportunity for Manchester United to win a European trophy.

    "I've always said that other clubs have done better than us, and we should have done better in Europe.

    "You have to admire the way Barcelona play ... but we've got a job to do and we'll find a solution"

    Sir Alex Ferguson

    "You have to admire the way Barcelona play, they play with great style, they've got fantastic players. But we've got a job to do and we'll find a solution.

    Easy ride

    United sealed their place in this year's final by destroying German minnows Schalke 4-1 at Old Trafford for a 6-1 aggregate semifinal victory and were never seriously troubled at any time over the two legs.

    For the final Ferguson could chose 10 of the 11 men who faced Barca in 2009 with only Cristiano Ronaldo of the starting line-up no longer at the club.

    There is little that Ferguson or Barca coach Pep Guardiola do not know about each other's teams and while the game is still more than three weeks away with domestic issues still to be settled, the key area, as it was in 2009, will be in midfield.

    Then, Barca's Xavi and Andres Iniesta totally dominated Anderson, Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs and laid the foundation for Barca's success. Ferguson will not want that to happen again.

    London's Wembley Stadium is the perfect setting for this year's final. Both Manchester United, in 1968 and Barcelona, in 1992, won their first European Cups there and Ferguson believes United will go into the game far better prepared than in any of the previous finals he has lead them into.

    Asked if there was a sense of destiny after United won the European Cup for the first time at Wembley in 1968, Ferguson added: "Let's hope so."

    "I think it will be a fantastic final. It is some weeks ahead and I hope we have everyone ready," he said.

    "The big advantage this time as opposed to two of our previous finals is that we have no players missing. In '99 we missed Roy Keane and Paul Scholes and in 2009 we missed Darren Fletcher.

    "We've got everyone available this time and that does make a difference.

    "This is the best competition in the world, all the best teams are there. To get to the final is an achievement itself, but to win it is the ultimate."

    Mourinho advice

    Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola was just one of the crowd at Old Trafford last night [AFP]

    A call to Jose Mourinho might help Ferguson.

    The former Chelsea manager masterminded Real Madrid's victory over Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final last month before losing in the ill-tempered all-Spanish Champions League semifinal.

    "I have watched (Barcelona) many times this season but we will take the information because Jose is very helpful that way,'' Ferguson said, although he steered clear of empathising with Mourinho's suggestions that Barcelona were beneficiaries of a sinister conspiracy to fix European competitions in their favour.

    One thing is certain, United will have to improve on the way they played that night at Rome's Olympic Stadium to lift the European Cup for a fourth time.

    "Hopefully, we can play a lot better,'' United midfielder Ryan Giggs.

    "The problem with Rome is that we didn't turn up and produce the football we knew we were capable of. So, hopefully, we can put that right at Wembley ...hopefully in the final we can prove what a good team we are.''

    Few are better placed assess the challenge than the 37-year-old Giggs, who won the competition in 1999 and 2008 before picking up his runners-up medal a year later.

    "Not a lot has changed at Barcelona (since 2009), the nucleus of the team is still the same,'' Giggs said.

    "The football they play is very good - the passing and the movement. And they've probably got the best player in the world in (Lionel) Messi.''

    The stage is set for a classic. 

    SOURCE: Agencies


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