/ 28 April 2008

Ferguson promises ‘different’ game

Alex Ferguson has promised a more ambitious approach from his Manchester United side in Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal second leg at home to Barcelona.

Ferguson told the media that ”the game now starts at Old Trafford — it’s the decider.”

”At home, with the atmosphere, we’ll be quite different to the first game.”

Even though Cristiano Ronaldo missed a third-minute penalty, United were relieved to escape from Barcelona with a 0-0 draw in the first leg, though Ferguson claims to be happy with the way his side had come through.

”We sealed off the areas where teams don’t normally do well against Barcelona,” he said. ”They had a lot of play around the box but our concentration was very good … They didn’t make a lot of chances.”

Ferguson is confident that star striker Wayne Rooney will be fit after being substituted in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat away to Chelsea.

”Rooney had a bang on the hip,” Ferguson said on Sunday.

”It is very, very painful but hopefully he will be all right for Tuesday. Wayne’s a team player who sacrifices himself all the time.”

The veteran Scottish manager is also hopeful that defender Nemanja Vidic is fit, after taking a heavy blow to the head on Saturday from Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.

Barcelona will travel to Old Trafford with more hope than expectation.

The Catalans are in foul form, having failed to win any of their last five games — slipping down to third in La Liga in the process.

Only a win or a score draw in Manchester can rescue Barca’s season from failure.

Embattled coach Frank Rijkaard rested several first-teamers on Saturday away to Deportivo Coruna — and was rewarded with a 2-0 defeat.

Defender Rafa Marquez is suspended for Tuesday’s showdown, though that is hardly bad news given the way the Mexican has been playing all season.

The good news is that captain Carles Puyol is back after missing the first leg through suspension.

Midfielder Yaya Toure is again having problems with his back but will make the trip, unlike the keen-to-get-away Ronaldinho.

Rijkaard is likely to try to take the initiative with a forward line of Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry.

Midfielder Deco reminded the media on Sunday that Real Madrid won 3-2 in Old Trafford in 2000, after a 0-0 draw in Madrid.

The Portugal veteran also recalled being part of the FC Porto team that battled out a decisive 1-1 draw in the ”Theatre of Dreams” in 2004.

”The fear is with them now,” Deco said. ”They know if they concede at home they will have to score twice to win the semifinal. I’m optimistic.”

He added that ”they defended quite deep [in the first leg] but won’t be able to do that at home.” – Sapa-DPA