Manchester United's challenge in next week's Champions League final got a little harder yesterday when Barcelona's Andres Iniesta and Thierry Henry, who have been doubts for Rome, declared they are confident they will play in the match.
Henry had been a particular doubt, having picked up a knee ligament injury during the 6-2 victory over Real Madrid on 2 May but after training alone yesterday he declared himself "optimistic" and Iniesta, who suffered a two-centimetre tear in his thigh muscle during the 3-3 home draw with Villarreal eight days after the Real win, also said: "I'll be in Rome."
Iniesta had a scan on Monday that confirmed his minor thigh tear was healing well and he is expected to return to full training tomorrow. An unnamed spokesman for Barca's medical team told El Pais: "The coach will have them both at his disposal for the final. It is more difficult for Henry to get up to match fitness because of the type of player that he is and the type of injury, but they will both be fit for the game... only just."
There has been a growing sense that Henry may be fit for the final, coach Pep Guardiola having declared that he is "very upbeat" about his prospects. "My hopes are high. He is coming along very well indeed," Guardiola said.
Dimitar Berbatov yesterday defended his season and revealed the extent to which nerves have affected his displays. "When you play for the biggest club in the world, you are sometimes shaking before you go on the pitch," Berbatov said. "Sometimes I get nervous and I show it with my hands or by screaming on the pitch, but sometimes it's the other way around. I am still nervous."