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"The stuff of dreams" is how Rio Ferdinand describes the prospect of winning the UEFA Champions League with Manchester United FC.
'It didn't happen'
A losing semi-finalist with both United last season and former club Leeds United AFC in 2001, Ferdinand has his sights set on going all the way in Europe's élite competition this term – and believes the current United squad have what it takes to achieve that goal. "Last season we had a great opportunity to go on and be a part of the final at least, but for whatever reason that didn't happen," said Ferdinand.
"We would like to change that. We have a great history domestically and in Europe – obviously we would like to be a bit more fruitful in this competition because we feel we have got talent, we have the numbers and there is a desire within the club to do well in this competition this year. It is the stuff of dreams as any young lad, or any professional, would say. Not many players get the opportunity to play in the final, let alone win it. We dream like anybody else to go out there and lift that trophy in Moscow."
Ferdinand argues that Sir Alex Ferguson has a stronger group of players at his disposal this season than last, where they succumbed 5-3 on aggregate to AC Milan in the semi-finals – a defeat they are desperate to make up for. "We were close last season and we don't want to fall at that hurdle again. The club have bought in some very, very good players who have done well since they've been here and added to the squad that we had before."
While United's 1-1 draw at Olympique Lyonnais leaves the Premier League champions well-placed to finish the job of securing a quarter-final berth on Tuesday, the England international is reluctant to look too far ahead. "We know it will be a tough game against Lyon and there is a lot of football to be played before anyone starts thinking about lifting that trophy. Lyon are a good side and they have been consistently the best team in France for a while."
Ferdinand and his fellow defenders may need to be particularly wary of the threat posed by Lyon forward Karim Benzema, scorer of the French title-holders' goal in the first leg. "He played well," said the 29-year-old. "He got the ball, took a touch in one motion and then opened up and scored. It was a fantastic finish but, as I said, hopefully we won't give him that much space to work with in this game."
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