Champions League: Rooney will relish final - Ferguson

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL: BARCELONA v MANCHESTER UNITED

  • Venue: Wembley Stadium, London
  • Date: Saturday, 28 May
  • Kick-off: 1945 BST

Coverage: Live commentary and full reports on BBC Radio 5 live & the BBC Sport website; live television coverage on ITV1 and Sky Sports 1

Manchester United ready to surprise Barcelona (UK users only)

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson says Wayne Rooney's added maturity can help beat Barcelona in the Champions League final at Wembley.

Ferguson said United are well prepared and "have a great chance" of reversing their loss in the 2009 final, when Rooney was subdued.

"We have players who will all like this stage," added the Scot.

"In terms of Rooney's progress in Europe, he is much more mature than he was in 2009. And others too."

Rooney played wide on the left in the 2009 Champions League final when United lost 2-0 to the Catalan side, but he is expected to start in a more central role on Saturday.

Although he suffered a poor start to the season, the 25-year-old has struck up a formidable partnership with strike partner Javier Hernandez and the pair could begin the match at Wembley if Ferguson decides to name an attacking line-up.

United defender Rio Ferdinand is also sure that Rooney can have an impact, and cited Rooney's overhead kick against Manchester City earlier in the season as evidence he could deliver on the big stage.

"When we have needed Wayne to stand up and be counted he has been there," said Ferdinand.

Ferguson praises adversary Guardiola

"People talk about big occasions. I think of the Manchester City game when he scored one of the best goals you will see at Old Trafford.

"I don't need to go through the times and occasions he has done that."

Ten of the players who started the 2009 final could also play a part in this year's showpiece and Ferguson believes their added experience puts them in a better postion to succeed this time.

"The experience of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic is vital," the Scot added. "Our [overall] experience, and our progress in Europe this season, gives us a good chance.

"Barcelona have fantastic qualities but I think our qualities will show through as well, which could make it a really good game."

With both teams poised on three European Cup triumphs, a fourth will take them level with Bayern Munich and Ajax.

"Many people would agree it is the final of the decade," said Ferguson. "The success of both teams in the last decade has been enormous.

"The attraction of two great teams with great history is obvious. It is an appealing final in terms of what could happen in the game.

"There could be a lot of goals, there could be a lot of excitement and there will be a lot of good football, I am sure of that."

Ferguson - who won the Champions League with United in 1999 and 2008 - admitted that errors may have been made before the 2009 final defeat but they have now been rectified ahead of Saturday's final against the same opposition.

"We are very focused this time and our preparation has been better. We maybe made one or two mistakes last time, but not this time.

"We were disappointed we lost the game but it isn't a matter of revenge, it is about our own personal pride."

The Red Devils - who have conceded only four goals in Europe this season - wrapped up a record 19th domestic title against Blackburn on 14 May and Ferguson explained they have put the time to good use since.

"We did most of the work before the Blackpool game [last Sunday] - and winning the league the previous week helped us that way.

SIX OF THE BEST PAST GAMES

  • Man Utd beat Barcelona 2-1 in May 1991 to lift the European Cup Winners' Cup
  • Barcelona beat Man Utd 4-0 in a Champions League group match in Nov 1994
  • Man Utd 3-3 Barcelona in a Champions League group game in Sept 1998
  • Barcelona 3-3 Man Utd in the return match in Nov 1998
  • Man Utd beat Barcelona 1-0 in the Champions League semi-final second leg to reach the 2008 final
  • Barcelona beat Man Utd 2-0 in the 2009 Champions League final in Rome

"The players have to trust themselves and trust each other because I trust them. I know they'll do the job right.

"This team has unity and our record in Europe this year is good. We're used to playing in Europe, we have that experience and we're pleased with what we've achieved this year in Europe."

Also champions of their domestic league, Barcelona are now being considered as one of the greatest clubs sides of all time, with Fifa world player of the year Lionel Messi in their ranks - alongside an influential band of Spain's 2010 World Cup-winning team.

But a relaxed Ferguson is undaunted by the might of the Barcelona team.

"We recognise the quality of our opponents: it's unwise to go into a game not preparing for how your opponents play, their strengths and weaknesses," he said.

"But we always focus on what we can do ourselves. And we hope to attack - we have players who can do that."

Despite that focus on his own team, Ferguson did have praise for opposite number Pep Guardiola ahead of the game.

The former Barcelona midfielder was the youngest coach to win the Champions League when his side beat United in 2009, as they completing a league, cup and European treble in his first season - since when they have got stronger.

"For a young coach, he's changed the way they play and brought a maturity to the team," said Ferguson.

"From beating us in Rome to the present day, you can see that maturity.

"He's changed the way they press the ball; for a young coach he's done fantastically well and has a good presence. He played for Barcelona, which helps, and with the history of Dutch coaches there, he's made a big step forward for Spanish coaches."