Sir Alex Ferguson is predicting a classic UEFA Champions League Final between Manchester United and Barcelona after the two European giants were left standing following a week of semi-final drama. United's semi-final victory over Arsenal on5 May, followed by Barcelona's dramatic injury-time equaliser at Chelsea 24 hours later, has set up a dream final that has been welcomed by neutral supporters throughout the world. And Ferguson believes that the quality of the two sides means the 27 May final will be the kind of spectacle for which everyone is hoping.
"I think you have the potential for a great final," he said. "That's what the public were looking at. Both clubs are recognised for playing good football. There's a good history to both clubs and I think it'll be a great final.
"I was looking at it in different ways, on the one hand Chelsea and on the other Barcelona, but we've got them now and that's how we are going to prepare," Ferguson said. "I really enjoyed their performance [in the 6-2 win] against Real Madrid. I thought they were fabulous. That [Andres] Iniesta, I don't think he ever gives the ball away. No, they're a terrific side, a terrific football side."
Ferguson, still pressing to secure the league title for United, has conceded that he has not yet turned his thoughts to his line-up for their second consecutive UEFA Champions League Final, although he is resigned to being without suspended midfielder Darren Fletcher. The Scot is already conscious of the numerous difficult decisions he will have to face as he finalises his line-up.
"That's the difficulty at the moment," he said. "Prior to Tuesday night's game, I was having regrets about playing Ryan Giggs the whole game, for instance, at Middlesbrough, so I wrestled with that throughout the day. But at the end of the day, I think I got it right."
Another burning issue that is already on the agenda ahead of the final concerns the selection of the referee for the most high-profile game on the club calendar. Diplomatically, Ferguson refused to comment on the choice of official for the final, other than to claim he has confidence in UEFA making the correct appointment.
"You're getting a European final, so you expect the referee to be the top and experienced, there's no question about that," Ferguson said. "You can't think it'll be anyone other than the best referee and the one who deserves it most. It may be Mr. [Roberto] Rosetti because the game is in Italy, for instance. Sometimes it goes that way, in recognition of where the game's actually played. I don't have any worries about that."