United, Barca face-off on site of first Euro wins

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MANCHESTER, England (AP): Since being outclassed and outgunned by Barcelona's players in the 2009 Champions League final, Manchester United has seen its Spanish rival's eye-catching football captivate the globe.
And the pain of that 2-0 loss in Rome still vexes Alex Ferguson so much that the Manchester United manager has resisted delivering a public post-mortem on the capitulation by his side.
But the Red Devils will finally have a chance to avenge that defeat when the two sides face-off in another final on May 28.
"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."
Messi netted in the 2009 final, but Barcelona's forward line has since been shorn of the danger provided by Samuel Eto'o, the other goal-scorer in Rome.
United will be relying on Wayne Rooney for goals this time at Wembley Stadium, having seen both Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez depart in the weeks after the final.
And the Red Devils will have to shed any psychological inhibitions about its ability to conquer Pep Guardiola's Barcelona, generally regarded as currently the best team in the world.
"I don't think we should be going there lacking in confidence," Ferguson said after United's 6-1 aggregate win over Schalke on Wednesday. "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."
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.
On May 28, United and Barcelona will not only be returning to the site of their first European Cup wins, but Wembley will be the place either side will pick up their fourth European title.
United's first came in 1968 against Benfica, 10 years after the team was decimated by the Munich air disaster. Barcelona had to wait until 1992, when Guardiola was in the team.
"It was a huge moment for the club when we won the Champions League for the first time in the old Wembley and now we are in the new Wembley," Guardiola said. "Football is coming home."
Guardiola, though, was not in the Barcelona team that lost to United in the 1991 European Cup Winners' Cup final, giving Ferguson his first continental title since moving from Aberdeen.
In the 10 competitive matches between Barcelona and United, each have won three times and there have been four draws.
In this season's competition, though, Barcelona boasts the most prolific attack with 27 goals, while United has the joint meanest defense, having conceded only four times.
By the time they arrive at Wembley, both teams should have won the domestic leagues they currently top.
But while Barcelona has been highly praised, United has been criticized for its often mundane performances.
"You will always have people that knock you as United," Giggs said.

source : The Star


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