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|Attempts off target||94||94|
Manchester United FC captain Rio Ferdinand said he was "feeling good and glad to be back" after declaring his fitness on the eve of the UEFA Champions League final against FC Barcelona.
"I've spoken to the manager who knows that I wouldn't put myself forward to play if I was not 100 per cent as it's such a talented squad," said the centre-back, who has struggled with a calf injury since the 5 May victory at Arsenal FC which guaranteed United's presence in Rome. "If my fitness was detrimental to the team or result I wouldn't play but I've been working hard and don't see any problems."
'Place in history'
A cornerstone of a defence which has laid the foundations for success in the Premier League, League Cup and FIFA Club World Cup this season, the England man's next goal is to rubber-stamp a second straight triumph on European club football's biggest stage. "We need to achieve that," continued Ferdinand. "That's why we're here. Until you win it back-to-back you don't really know where it puts you compared to other teams. We want to win it then [the media] can decide where our place in history is."
Ferdinand's partnership with Nemanja Vidić is among the most revered in world football, not least by their appreciative manager Sir Alex Ferguson who believes "when my defenders are at the top there's no one better". Yet the 30-year-old knows plaudits will count for nothing if United fail to get their tactics spot-on against Barcelona's attacking talents. "If you defend too deep against a team with such quality players then it can be dangerous," he said. "We've proved we can play deep and hit on the counter or play further up. We have the strength to alter our approach and will need to pick the right option."
Ferdinand knows all about the Spanish champions having played in both legs as United eliminated them in the semi-finals last term – clean sheets in both legs proving pivotal in a 1-0 aggregate victory – and is confident of snuffing out Lionel Messi again. "It will be difficult for whoever plays against him as he's a fantastic player with great close control," said the former West Ham United FC and Leeds United AFC defender. "But we've done it before. Patrice Evra has played against him a couple of times and done very well. We don't need to do things differently."
With little seemingly to choose between the sides, Cristiano Ronaldo said both he and the team had been practising penalties – "a lot" in fact. The Portuguese scored a fantastic header at the Stadio Olimpico last season as United beat AS Roma 2-0 in the first leg of their quarter-final, and is ready to impress again. "This is a great stadium," he said. "I've played well a few times here. I have to play well because the pitch, stadium, supporters are amazing. I think it's going to be special."
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