Schalke’s Raul: Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson will know how to stop Barcelona

Real Madrid legend expects a closely fought contest at Wembley and insists the Red Devils manager will know how to thwart the free-flowing style of Pep Guardiola's players
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson will know exactly what to do to stop Barcelona in the Champions League final, according to Schalke striker Raul.

The former Real Madrid forward and club record scorer faced the Catalan giants on countless occasions during a 16-year spell at the Bernabeu, where he won Europe’s most coveted prize three times.

Raul told reporters: “I don’t think there is a favourite.

“There is nothing I can tell the managers of United or Barcelona. They [Ferguson and Pep Guardiola] are both great coaches and at Manchester, in particular, Ferguson is a legend. He will know exactly what his players have to do to win and they will work on a plan.

“The two sides are both very well balanced and they will know each other very well, from playing each other in the final two years ago. They are both at the ultimate level.

“Barcelona are playing very well – that is clear – but Manchester United have proved against us and in the past that they can compete with whatever team they face. It will be a great final to watch."

Raul was a member of the Schalke side that lost to United in the semi-final, where veteran midfielder Ryan Giggs sent Sir Alex Ferguson’s men on their way with a second-half goal during the first leg in Gelsenkirchen.

Like Raul, Giggs believes United can topple the side likely to contain seven of the 11 players selected in the Spain side which triumphed in last summer’s World Cup, along with the almost Lionel Messi.

“He’s [Messi] the best player in the world at the moment – his goalscoring record is frightening,” said Giggs. “But he’s just one of many players we’ll have to look after and take care of.

“They have top players and if they all click it’s very difficult to beat a team like that, but it’s not impossible. We’ve got very good players who are at the top of their form at the moment. Just like they’ll be trying to hurt us, we’ll be trying to hurt them.

“I think we’re well matched in every department. Going into any top game, you need a gameplan and the players to go out and produce it. We’ll need to do that but ultimately once you’re out on the pitch you’ve got to have the confidence to play against what is a very good team.”

United will need to overcome the memory of defeat at the hands of the Spanish champions in Rome back in 2009 when Messi rounded off a comfortable night's work for Pep Guardiola’s men with a deft header after Samuel Eto’o had opened the scoring.

Giggs added: “We didn’t react after they scored in Rome. It knocked the stuffing out of us and if it happens again we need to reach better.”

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