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Page last updated at 09:38 GMT, Tuesday, 26 May 2009 10:38 UK

Man Utd defence is key - Lineker

Uefa Champions League final: Barcelona v Manchester United
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome Date: Wed, 27 May Kick-off: 1945 BST Coverage: Live on ITV1 and Sky Sports 1, BBC Radio Five Live, BBC Radio Manchester; BBC Sport website.


Ex-Barcelona striker Gary Lineker on Wednesday's Champions League final

Gary Lineker believes Manchester United's back four hold the key to victory against Barcelona in the Champions League final in Rome.

Although the Spanish champions have scored 156 goals in all competitions this season, Lineker says United can cope with Barca's attacking prowess.

"I would go for United purely for the fact they are stronger defensively," the ex-Barca striker told BBC Sport.

United are bidding to win the trophy for the fourth time on Wednesday.

With confidence soaring after securing their 11th Premier League title in 17 seasons, Sir Alex Ferguson's side can create history and become the first team to win the Champions League in successive seasons at the Stadio Olimpico.

Barcelona are without key defender Rafael Marquez because of injury, with manager Pep Guardiola likely to play midfielder Yaya Toure out of position at centre-back, a factor which will play into United's favour, according to ex-Barca striker Lineker.

"Barcelona, particularly with Marquez injured, are perhaps weaker at the back and I don't think their goalkeeper is as strong as United's Edwin Van der Sar," said Lineker.


"United will probably play tighter than Barcelona and try and hit them on the break and that's where I think they may overcome them."

With the two best sides in Europe going head-to-head in the Italian capital, Lineker is relishing the contest between two of the leading players in the world - Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Messi is just incredible and he could go on to become the greatest player ever," said the former England captain.

"I haven't seen anyone keep the ball like he does since Maradona, his compatriot, who was the best player I ever saw. Ronaldo probably has the better all-round game, but is not as good a dribbler as Messi.

"Ronaldo has more power in his game and is certainly better in the air, but they are two wonderful talents."

At 67, Ferguson remains as motivated as ever to add further silverware to the Old Trafford trophy cabinet.

Former Liverpool manager Bob Paisley
Bob Paisley won three European Cups with Liverpool

And Lineker paid tribute to the remarkable achievements of the Scot, placing him above Liverpool greats Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley.

"You have to put him up there ahead of them because the main difference is he has managed to get together not just one great side, but three or even four in different stages," he said.

"He has done it over such a long period of time, so in terms of longevity you would perhaps just give it to him.

"He has built various brilliant teams over the years and has won everything you can win and keeps setting records.

"There are other managers in the past who have done wonderful things also but Sir Alex's record is pretty untouchable."

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see also
How Man Utd mastered Europe
26 May 09 |  Man Utd
Vidic ready to win at all costs
26 May 09 |  Europe
Who has won the European Cup?
26 May 09 |  Europe
Road to Rome photos
25 May 09 |  Europe
Barca's Toure ready for 'decider'
25 May 09 |  Europe
Rome puts alcohol limits on final
25 May 09 |  Europe
Hull 0-1 Man Utd
24 May 09 |  Premier League
Ferguson hungry for more success
22 May 09 |  Man Utd
O'Shea eager to secure Euro glory
21 May 09 |  Man Utd
Henry & Iniesta doubts for final
21 May 09 |  Europe
Man Utd fans given Rome warning
20 May 09 |  Manchester
Arsenal 1-3 Man Utd (agg 1-4)
05 May 09 |  Europe
Man Utd make victory parade plans
28 Apr 09 |  Manchester
Defender Ferdinand to have scan
11 Jan 09 |  Man Utd
Man Utd earn dramatic Euro glory
22 May 08 |  Europe

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