World Awaits Classic as Man U take on Barca


Rome, May 27: Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand is fit to start Wednesday's Champions League final and Barcelona's Thierry Henry and Andres Iniesta are also poised to shrug off knocks.

As hordes of well behaved fans descended on Rome and began to fill up the eternal city's ancient piazzas, the teams underwent leisurely training sessions at the Stadio Olimpico following another scorching hot day.

The forecast is similar for Wednesday with pundits expecting the 1845 GMT kick off to be a sizzler on the pitch as well.

The majestic talents of Barca playmaker Lionel Messi and Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo have led fans to label the game as a dream final between English and Spanish champions who love to attack.

The two teams are hoping to thrill the 67,000 sellout in contrast to their cagey semi-final last season which United edged on their way to lifting the trophy.

"I want the players to feel good, to feel beautiful, like they are playing in front of the whole world," Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola told a news conference.

"I want them to be daring and I want to show the world how good we are. That's our attitude."

United's Ferdinand has recovered from a calf strain and is also eager for his team to go on the attack. "The injury is fine, I've been training for the last couple of days with the team and I feel good," the centre back said.

"Defending so deep against such talented players can be dangerous."

United's task of repelling the Catalans will be even tougher if Spain midfielder Iniesta recovers from a strained thigh muscle and France striker Henry shakes off a knee injury.

"I think they will be there tomorrow. I am confident," said 38-year-old Guardiola, who is in his first year in charge.

Veteran counterpart Alex Ferguson said his team could enjoy even greater success than when they sealed their famous Treble exactly 10 years ago.

United hope to become the first side to retain the European Cup since the Champions League started in 1992-93. "When you get a bunch of players who are talented and don't want to lose then you are talking about a special team," the Scot said.

Ferguson was pleased his team would wear the same white strip they sported when beating Barca in the 1991 Cup Winners' Cup final. He also said it was fate the final was being played a day after what would have been the late Matt Busby's 100th birthday.

A huge facial image of United's 1968 European Cup-winning manager was laid out with card on a section seats at the Olimpico while the teams trained.


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