Ferguson wary of Barca threat

BY foxsports • February 15, 2010

Sir Alex Ferguson expects a more forceful Champions League challenge from Italy - but he still believes Barcelona hold the biggest threat.

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 league."

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."

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