Ferguson: We can match Barça

Sir Alex Ferguson has warned Barcelona not to underestimate Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League final later this month.

The European heavyweights meet at Wembley on 28 May, by which time they should have confirmed their status as the best teams in Spain and England.

Barcelona's qualities have been well known for some considerable time, having beaten United in the 2009 final and supplied, amongst others, Xavi and Andres Iniesta to the Spain side who were crowned world champions last summer, in addition to containing the best player on the planet, Lionel Messi. In contrast, United have spent the season being derided for lacking star quality.

Barça boss Pep Guardiola has said enough positive things about the Red Devils recently to suggest he is not being drawn into the same thinking. And, following yesterday's win over Chelsea that has taken his side to the brink of a record 19th league championship, Ferguson believes that is a wise course of action.

What we have to do is find a solution to the Xavi-Messi-Iniesta problem.
Ferguson on the Champions League final

"Everyone has acknowledged how great a team Barcelona are but Manchester United are in this final," Ferguson told US-based satellite radio station Sirius XM. "Everyone has said this is not a good Manchester United team, that we are not this or that.

"But we have scored more goals than anyone else," he went on. "Our home form has been magnificent. We are undefeated in Europe. We are in the Champions League final and we will win the league by getting one more point. You have to put all the criticism to one side because I have to be realistic when I look at my team and ask, 'Am I satisfied?' Those players have given me everything."

Ferguson recognises they will have to give a little bit more to prevent Messi and co running riot. But he plans to present Barcelona with at least as many problems as they give United. And on yesterday's evidence, it is certainly possible.

"Obviously, Barcelona is the big one now," he said. "In the final last time we started off really well, then gave away a bad goal. After that Barcelona kept the ball very well, as they always do. What we have to do is find a solution to the Xavi-Messi-Iniesta problem.

"Everyone is searching for that because they are outstanding footballers. We have our share too," the coach went on. "We have players who can cause any team a lot of bother and hopefully those attacking players will give Barcelona problems that everyone thinks they are going to give us."

Fergie offers Ancelotti support
First, United have to secure the point required to clinch their record 19th title, a prospect that has so enthused their supporters that a campaign is already under way to push Paul Hardcastle's 19 back to number one in the charts. It seems impossible the Red Devils will fail to gain the point required from their final two games, with Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti admitting the contest was over after the final whistle.

Ferguson clearly has a soft spot for the Italian and the pair made tentative plans to visit an Italian vineyard at some suitable point in the future during their post-match chat. It triggered yet another expression of incredulity from Ferguson, who will celebrate 25 years as United boss later this year, about a man seemingly certain to be ditched after less than two, even though he landed the domestic double during his debut campaign.

"It would shock me, not surprise me," said Ferguson. "This is an industry that baffles me at times. Here is a man who has won the European Cup twice, he has won Scudettos. He did the double in England last year. "Why is that being questioned? Why is it becoming an issue? I don't understand it.

"But the rumour mill is out there that he is going to be leaving. That is sad because he is an outstanding character," Ferguson added. "He is a great man, full of absolute dignity."