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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May, 15, 2006

Wenger confident Gunners can defeat Barca

PARIS, May 15 (Reuters) - Arsene Wenger is confident Arsenal can beat favourites Barcelona in the Champions League's final and lift the trophy for the first time in their history.

Wenger said his team look stronger than ever as they prepare for Wednesday's showdown at the Stade de France in Paris.

'Barcelona are the favourites,' Wenger was quoted as saying by French daily l'Equipe on Monday. 'But we are serious outsiders and we are determined to do our best.

'We can beat them. It's a final and you always have a chance. My team have banked on (winning) this competition and I'm certain they are going to assume their responsibilities, meaning they are going to win,' he said.

Arsenal reached the final as underdogs after stunning Real Madrid in the last 16 and Juventus in the quarter-finals before taming Champions League newcomers Villarreal in the last four.

Wenger believes the win over nine-times European champions Madrid, courtesy of a superb individual goal by Thierry Henry at the Bernabeu, was the turning point in their campaign.

'The match against Real gave the team a great deal of confidence,' he said. 'It gave the guys practical signs of what they were worth.'

'You can always find gifted players in Europe but guys capable of winning against Real and Juventus and keeping a cool head are very few. They don't grow on trees.

'The team has changed a lot over the last six months. There is a new state of mind now.'

Turning to his own future the 56-year-old Wenger, whose contract runs until 2008, said he would be happy to stay with the north London side until the end of his career.

'The future of a manager is highly dependant on the team's results but if you ask me whether I'm considering finishing my career at Arsenal, I'd say yes, why not?'

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