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World awaits clash of the titans

sports Updated: May 27, 2009 18:23 IST
Mike Collett
Mike Collett
Reuters
Soccer

Christiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo
I'm only thinking about me, not Messi: Cristiano Ronaldo
Manchester United will have completed a quadruple haul of trophies or Barcelona a treble when the Champions League final finishes on Wednesday.

Coaches Alex Ferguson and Pep Guardiola have given their final news conferences, the teams have held their last training sessions and the world awaits a dream final between two of the biggest clubs in Europe.

United would surpass the achievements of Ferguson's 1999 treble-winning team by lifting their fourth trophy of the season after the FIFA Club World Cup, Premier League and League Cup.

But Barcelona are eyeing a Treble of their own after being crowned Spanish champions and winning the King's Cup.

United have been boosted by Rio Ferdinand declaring himself fit following a calf problem and the England defender trained with his team mates at the Olympic Stadium on Tuesday evening.

"The injury is fine, I've been training for the last couple of days with the team and I feel good," he said.

"I wouldn't start the game if I wasn't 100 percent fit. I wouldn't do that to the team. I don't see any problems from training for two or three days."

Lionel Messi
Messi
Alex Ferguson has said he does not propose to make any special plans to combat the threat of Lionel Messi.
Guardiola said he was confident injury doubts Thierry Henry and Andres Iniesta would be fit.

"If they play they are okay. If they are not okay they are not going to play," Guardiola said before both players took a full part in a training session.

Ferdinand, Barca duo fit for final of joy

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 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.

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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