Ferguson wary of Barca threat
Sir Alex Ferguson expects a more forceful Champions League
challenge from Italy – but he still believes Barcelona hold the
Serie A suffered a last-16 wipeout last term, with Inter
Milan, Roma and Juventus all eliminated at the hands of English
opposition in Europe’s number one competition.
There are plenty who fear a similarly dismal campaign this
time around given AC Milan must face United before city rivals
Inter tackle Chelsea.
Both ties have added glamour given David Beckham and Jose
Mourinho must tackle their former clubs.
However, the bookmakers are in no doubt the Premier League
pair will emerge victorious.
Ferguson does not expect it to be quite so easy. He views
Milan’s vast experience as an element to be respected, while, after
watching the recent derby, he sees Inter being a far stronger force
than they were last term.
“I watched the Milan derby and Inter played fantastic,” said
Ferguson. “They were very good on that night and there has been a
big improvement with them, illustrated by their position in the
AC Milan have experience of big games too and we have to be
cautious how we approach this game, so I would say there is an
improvement in the Italian sides.”
It is difficult to see a repeat of 2003, when Italy provided
both finalists – AC Milan and Juventus – at Old Trafford. More
likely is 2008, when United met Chelsea in Moscow, or 2000, when
Real Madrid met Valencia in an all-Spanish affair.
“Milan had their dominance with people like (Paolo) Maldini
and (Franco) Baresi, then, at the start of the decade, Valencia,
Real and Barca were all in the semis.
“In recent years English teams have done well and got to a
lot of semi-finals and finals.
“But you have to go with Barcelona. They have the experience
of winning it last year and they are top of their own league too.
“You cannot write off a team with all that quality.”