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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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Fabregas taunts long-ball Chelsea

Former Arsenal skipper Cesc Fabregas has delivered a backhanded compliment to new Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo ahead of the Blues' Champions League clash with Barcelona at Stamford Bridge.

• Hoddle: Pragmatic Blues can beat Barca
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• Alves: Chelsea lacked courage

Fabregas, who joined the reigning European champions from the Gunners last summer, believes Chelsea now play more "long balls" under Di Matteo than under previous manager Andre Villas-Boas. However, the Spaniard concedes the Premier League outfit will prove a tricky opponent in the semi-final tie.

"I follow the Premier League every weekend," said Fabregas. "They have changed radically.

"What happened with Villas-Boas was they played more from the back, trying to keep possession and take the initiative in the game. But they've gone back to the type of Chelsea that was more successful a few years ago - playing on the counter, trying to hit the targetman, long balls, sitting back and using that No 9 as a reference point.

"The game will be difficult. In recent games against Chelsea when I was at Arsenal and now with Barca, even though we kept possession it's hard to play against them. They counter very easily and Didier Drogba can score against you. So you have to be careful and aware of the threat they pose on the counter-attack."

Fabregas revealed he has no regrets about leaving English football for life in La Liga, having already claimed the Spanish Supercopa, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup trophies with the Catalan giants.

"It's much better than I expected and I have played much more than I expected," he said.

"I came here to learn, to get better as a player and a person and also to experience weeks like this - Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Champions League, then Real Madrid in a game which, if we win, we are back in the title race, followed by Chelsea again.

"I've learned a lot tactically. I now know my position on the pitch. I feel more mature as a player.

"It's a pleasure to be playing in this team. It's the most important week of the season and to be able to experience something like this is a dream for me.

"Winning the Champions League is a challenge that I have set myself. I was very close a few years ago and I still have a thorn in my side so, for me, it is great dream and I would love it to be fulfilled in my first year at Barcelona."

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