Barcelona V Manchester United
Manchester United boss, Sir Alex Ferguson, has backed his team to beat Barcelona in the Champions League semi final and go on to match their tournament winning exploits of 1999.
The Premier League leaders play the first leg away in Spain tonight before hosting Barca at Old Trafford next Tuesday.
United went out of the competition at this stage last season when they were beaten by AC Milan, a 3 – 2 win in England was followed by a thumping 3 – nil defeat at the San Siro.
But Ferguson said he was confident his side was better prepared than last year, when they were hampered by injuries and tiredness.
“We were not ready for last season’s game,” he said, “but I am far more confident now. I think the winners will stand a great chance in the final.”
As for the 1999 Champions League final victory against Bayern Munich, he said “The players have seen the game many times on video and TV, so I don’t think it’s lost on any of them.
“What is more important is that they can shape their own history. I think they are good enough to do that.”
He added: “It is almost 10 years since we won the final. The team of today does not need to worry about the past and be reminded of the past.”
Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard said he admired his opponents.
“They are able to play the English style because they play in the English Premier League every week and are used to that, but they also have a lot of players who are able to adapt to the European game.
“It is clear that they have many great players and Cristiano Ronaldo is one of them, but it is not a game about one player. There will be two great teams out there and the best team will win the tie.