Ferguson predicts classic final against Barcelona

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The Independent Football

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson says next week's Champions League final against Barcelona has all the ingredients of a classic.

The 27 May game in Rome between the newly crowned champions of England and Spain will feature the likes of United's Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney and Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Xavi Hernandez.

"The profile of the final is very good and I hope it lives up to that profile," Ferguson said today. "You see the players that Barcelona have got and the players that Manchester United have got and that suggests a great final."

United could also field Dimitar Berbatov and Carlos Tevez in attack, while Barcelona have Samuel Eto'o in their strikeforce and hope that Thierry Henry and Andres Iniesta recover from injuries.

Ferguson said he doesn't think the match will fall into the list of anticlimactic finals which have promised much but delivered little with teams playing conservative football.

"European finals can be disappointing if you look at the results over the years," he said. "There have been some disappointing results, 1-0s, 0-0s, penalties kicks. I have a feeling it won't be that way next Wednesday but there are very few free-scoring finals."

United captured the title last season by winning a penalty shootout against Chelsea after a 1-1 draw in a dramatic ending to a tense final in Moscow. United also won in 1999 by scoring two last-minute goals against Bayern Munich in Barcelona.

Ferguson said United would not change their entertaining style of play to try to stifle a Barcelona side which has scored more than 100 league goals in winning their 19th Spanish title.

"Every club has their own style. Barcelona has their style and we have our own way of playing," Ferguson said. "We hope that we express ourselves the way we want on Wednesday. The most important thing to win the tournament you have to express yourselves in the best possible way. And I think we have the players who can do that."

Ferdinand said that centerback Rio Ferdinand, who has a calf muscle injury, has to prove his fitness for the game by being available for Sunday's game at Hull in the final round of the Premier League season.

"I am hoping he will be fit for Sunday. If not, he is doubtful for Wednesday, that is for sure," Ferguson said. "I think he needs a game going into the Champions League final because him having not played for three weeks is too much."

If Ferdinand doesn't make it, Ferguson is likely to field Johnny Evans against his former United teammate Gerard Pique, who is now in Barcelona's defence.

"Johnny Evans and Gerard Pique grew up together really through the academy," Ferguson said. "I'm sure Gerard Pique will be playing."